When Sanjiv (seen in the photo above, at the back, right), his wife Anjali and daughter Rebecca came to Canada from India in 2014, it was with a sense of adventure and an appreciation for the opportunities they might have to contribute to a new country.
What they didn’t anticipate was the challenge they’d have finding work, even though Sanjiv and his wife come from medical backgrounds, are well educated and speak English. They first landed in Calgary where Sanjiv had a few different job experiences. After a visit to Abbotsford, the family chose to move here, favouring the warmer climate in BC’s Fraser Valley. But even here, finding work was hard and Sanjiv found himself doing odd jobs.
“It was surprising,” he says.
But in the fall of 2016, Sanjiv came across a poster advertising a Job Fair for Immigrants hosted by Communitas Supportive Care Society. Communitas serves people from across BC who live with developmental disabilities, acquired brain injury and mental health challenges. The Job Fair for Immigrants was an opportunity for people to learn more about Communitas. Sanjiv decided to see if this organization was a fit for him, a decision that changed his life.
Sanjiv met with Justina Penner, Communitas’ chief human resources officer. He felt immediately welcomed.
“Justina was so pleasant,” he says. “I had a good feeling about the organization right away.”
He decided to apply as a Residential Support Worker (RSW) and was hired. Working in one of Communitas’ homes turned out to be a “blessing from God.”
“I have made friends for life here,” he says. “It is so wonderful to be able to find colleagues who can pray with you and for you.”
Today, Sanjiv serves as a manager in another Communitas’ residence and is thriving in his new role. He appreciates the person-centred care that Communitas’ provides and values the opportunities he has to champion the cause of people who sometimes have very little say in society. He wishes that society in his country of origin would also come to value those who live with disabilities.
“I have come to see the people we serve as a blessing from God,” he reflects. “It’s so easy to love people with whom we maintain a reciprocal relationship. But life is not always like that. Working here, I’ve realized that every day I have a chance to put into practice what I believe.”
Sanjiv’s family has settled into life in Abbotsford. Rebecca attends Mennonite Educational Institute and Anjali has also found work with Communitas as an RSW in another residence. Sanjiv encourages others who are looking for work to consider Communitas.
“This is a big organization. There’s lots of room to grow, to meet people and learn,” he says.