Giving Hope at the Holidays

Hope Stories

How the Salvation Army is helping a survivor of domestic violence spread holiday cheer for her children.

For those experiencing or escaping domestic violence — this time of year is not always full of Christmas cheer. Rachel knows firsthand. Her story is one of the toughest, and one of the sweetest.

In 2012, desperate to find a way to financially support her family Rachel moved to Canada from Hong Kong. A trained nurse, she could not afford the fee to register for her nursing license in Canada. As a result, she worked for seven years as a nanny. Separated from her children and husband across the world, she sent back her earnings, until finally, in May 2019 she was granted permanent residency in Canada and sponsored her family to join her in Vancouver.

However, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, Rachel and her two teenagers, fled with only the clothes on their backs after her husband’s emotional and physical violence spiraled out of control.  Her daughter called the police when she witnessed her father beating her mom and knocking her out. He was jailed for a day.

At the same time, she was laid off from her job as a screening officer at YVR airport due to COVID-19. “I felt like we lost everything,” says Rachel. “I didn’t know where we would live, how I could afford to pay for housing, how I would feed my children, or how I would find work again. It was very scary. I was really worried about how I could continue raising my kids.”

Today, Rache and her children have a safe and loving environment thanks to The Salvation Army Boundless Vancouver Community Ministries.

Rachel and her children are carving a new pathway. Like many victims of domestic violence, Rachel is facing many challenges. But trying to get back on her feet has been especially difficult with COVID raging widely.

“It’s been really hard because the only way we can talk to our family in the is through the Internet, so I am so grateful for everything they (The Salvation Army) are doing for my kids and me,” says Rachel. “I’ve been able to use feed my children through the milk, eggs, vegetables, and meat the Boundless Vancouver Community Ministries gives us once a week.”

Thanks to support from The Salvation Army’s Rachel is now studying to become a healthcare aide. The organization helped Rachel apply for a single mother’s bursary fund to help partially cover the cost of the training. “Once my studies have finished, I can work and will be able to afford a place.”

Rachel’s worried that her children are maturing too quickly as they are having to take on extra responsibilities for someone their age. “I can see the impact that poverty and COVID-19 are having on me and my children, but The Salvation Army is helping me, and the children, to heal and grow. It has put us in a good place to move forward physically and mentally.”

Another challenge she faces is that separation, divorce, and domestic abuse are taboo subjects among the members of her family and religious community.

“This is not something I can get a lot of support from my family for religious reasons,” she says.

With The Salvation Army, she feels blessed to have found a haven and place of comfort and support. She knows that all of this has had a powerful and profound impact on her children’s lives and hopes for the future.

“For the first time since 2012, I feel hope,” she says. A spiritual support group with others facing challenging circumstances through Boundless Vancouver’s Community Ministries offers non-judgmental relationships, and prayer to help Rachel and others build resilience through shared faith. “We pray a lot and give each other strength and blessings.”

Like most moms, she longs to spread holiday cheer and bestow her children with gifts during the holiday season.

The Salvation Army is helping to fill her children’s holiday wish lists. The presents and food have been huge, especially because of COVID. She is experiencing so much joy watching her children opening their presents and filling their stomachs.

“My kids are loving the little books, gift cards, and other donations they’ve been given,” she says.

Rachel is worried about what will happen when that time comes to an end. However, she hopes that with her new qualifications, she will be able to find a long-term housing solution.

“I am hopeful for the future and very grateful for all that has been done to care for me and my children,” she says. “I know how much The Salvation Army has helped me and I know that they are doing the same for so many other families. Their work changes lives.”