New immigrants from war-torn countries face a host of challenges. While poverty, language barriers, loss, separation, and unemployment is common and frightening, the thought of driving on Canadian roads can be just as terrifying.
Located in Winnipeg, The Salvation Army’s Life Employability and Enhancement Program (LEEP) is a pre-employment training program that assists newcomers in becoming contributing members of Canadian society. Participants must be from a country affected by war and be between the ages of 18-30 years.
Last year, LEEP tried something new—a driver training program that is parallel to the one high school students take. most new Canadians can’t afford private driving lessons.
“Most new Canadians can’t afford private driving lessons. Driving makes the lives of newcomers so much easier,” says Michelle Strain, LEEPs Program Supervisor. “A driver’s licence makes it less complicated to get to work, to get groceries, to get to school. And it opens up a whole new range of job possibilities.”
Brothers Trésor and Daniel, who left the Democratic Republic of Congo a year ago, are recent grads of LEEP. At home, their family didn’t have the funds for driving. When they first got behind the wheel in Canada they were very nervous. “I’m going to get in an accident,” Daniel thought.
Now, after several months of practice, the brothers are confident, feel safe and are ready to trade in their learner’s permits to become fully licenced drivers.
Through this new initiative young adults feel self-sufficient, and there is a lot of dignity in self-sufficiency. As students report increased self-esteem, bleakness is replaced with hope and success, surviving is replaced with thriving.
For societies most vulnerable, dignity is a remote concept. While The Salvation Army serves more than 1.7 Canadians every year, it seeks to offer practical solutions that restore a sense of dignity to its clients.
Daniel can’t wait to stop taking three buses to work and two buses to school.