Smiling young woman with brown hair

By the time Naaz arrived at Covenant House, she felt like she was “in quicksand.”

She and her older brother had recently fled conflict in their country. When they arrived in Canada, they spent a week at the airport. She didn’t speak English and she had no idea what to do next.

Walking into Covenant House was like coming home—to care, kindness and a life of opportunities she couldn’t even begin to imagine.

Naaz kept to herself for the first few weeks, but gradually opened up to the programs that would change her life. Staff helped her with practical matters like getting a work permit, taking ESL classes and organizing housing options. But, more than that, they encouraged her to believe in herself.

I don’t feel like they’re workers; they’re my family. They pulled me out of the quicksand. They taught me that I have rights, that I am valuable and that my voice is important.

A boxing and self-defense class, a fitness class, and a confidence-building workshop helped her feel in control of herself and her life. A youth retreat and life-skills classes provided the time and space to see the possibilities of a bright future.

Today, Naaz is a peer mentor with other youth at Covenant House, works part-time and is saving up for a place of her own and post-secondary education. She had achieved an electrical engineering degree in her country and is determined to do the same in Canada.

In the meantime, she’s quick to tell other young people, “Don’t put yourself down. Dream big. You can do anything.”

Naaz would know.