Your people — the ones who love you, accept you, understand you — are half a world away. And you are here, in this chilled country where people speak a language you worry you will never master. Later, you find a job and others who’ve experienced what you’ve been through but you never forget the isolation and loneliness you felt.
That’s why Sakina Khanam and Husneara Mojumder went door-to-door throughout Regent Park, talking to their neighbours, listening to their concerns. They did this after their work; some nights they were still visiting at 1:00 a.m. “We came to know lots of problems,” says Mojumder. So they began after school homework classes, sewing classes for the women at home and a year ago, an English as a Second Language program.
Members of about 20 families meet monthly; they talk about their culture; they talk about how to help their children find jobs. Realizing their kids didn’t want to speak Bengali anymore, Ismet Alam has helped start up classes in their language and culture. “As immigrants we had to stay. But this is now our country; this is our community,” says Khanam. “We have to develop [these classes] so our children can feel like it’s their home too.”
The women have worked hard for their community and they have also worked to convince their members to believe in the revitalization plans for Regent Park. “We have lots of friends from different countries here,” says Mojumder. “We are happy. We are proud of Regent Park. It’s a tiny world of people from all over the world,” says Alam.