New to Canada, the Lawal family was struggling from the effects of past trauma and domestic violence after leaving their war-torn country of Nigeria. Scared and alone, mom Ndidi and her two children, Ikemba, 9, and Sade, 2, now faced a long road of emotional recovery in an unfamiliar city.
Overwhelmed and living in a Toronto shelter, Ndidi felt that her life was not on the path she wanted it to be and as a result had difficulty providing emotional support to her children.
Ikemba felt resentful toward his mother for abruptly uprooting him from his home and failing to comfort him. His emotional outbursts put strain on the family, particularly at mealtimes when he would refuse to eat the Canadian foods presented to him. Sade became more quiet and withdrawn as the weeks progressed, while Ndidi felt emotionally drained and unsure of what to do to connect with her children.
It was during this stressful time when Ndidi was introduced to CDI’s Taste of Home program, which supports children and youth in learning how to cook healthy, budget-friendly meals while developing stress management strategies they can use to face everyday challenges.
For Ikemba, the weekly sessions offered him a safe haven. He met others struggling with similar challenges and began to feel less alone. Using food as a bridge to connect with others, Ikemba learned to begin embracing his new home in Canada. As he began to feel more relaxed, he was open to trying new foods and calming strategies in the group setting, at home and at school. The program coordinator even spent time teaching the group tasty cultural dishes, such as Ikemba’s special family recipe for Jollof rice. Even while COVID-19 measures keep us at home, Ikemba continues learning with over-the-phone cooking instructions with his program coordinator. Not only is this a fun activity for Ikemba to pass the time, it also doubles as an opportunity for him to check in about other challenges while adjusting to the ‘new normal’.
By building trust and a relationship with Ikemba and understanding the needs of his family, CDI was also able to refer Ndidi to Mothers in Mind. This program focuses on supporting mothers with children under the age of 4 in healing from the effects of abuse and trauma, giving her the tools to heal from hurtful experiences and become the mother she’s always wanted to be.
Today, the Lawal family feels connected to the city they now call home. Ikemba has made friends and does well in school, while Sade is beginning to smile and giggle more often. Ndidi feels supported and confident in the bond she now shares with her children.
For information on our Family Violence services, click here.