Canada’s First Second-Stage Transition House Turns 40 – Mira’s Story
This year marks the 40th anniversary of YWCA Munroe House, Canada’s first second-stage transition house. While “it’s complicated to ‘celebrate’ four decades of needing a refuge for women escaping violence” (quoting Lisa Rupert, our VP of Housing and Violence Prevention, in her recent op-ed), we celebrate the success stories of women who were able to turn their lives around after a critical situation.
Mira* was a resident at YWCA Munroe House during a very difficult time in her life. Here’s her story, 14 years later.
“I moved to Canada in 2004 after an arranged marriage to soon find out that my husband at the time was involved in several criminal activities and was abusive. I was 23 at that time and I constantly feared for my safety around him. In September of 2006, things got out of hand. One night, my house was shot at. My two-month-old daughter was sleeping right next to the wall where the bullets hit. I remember thinking that we would be safer anywhere else but there. I finally found the courage to pick up my daughter and leave.
I cried endless nights while I was in a relationship with him but after I had my daughter and left his house, the grief was over. After all, now I had another life to protect. I was ready to fight against my circumstances to claim a safe and better life for us. After a few months being in a first-stage transition house, I got into YWCA’s second-stage transition house.
Everyone at Munroe House was always very helpful and connected me to any services I needed, including helping me get legal aid to hire a lawyer for my daughter’s custody. I felt strong to achieve that with help and support from YWCA staff.
The staff were always there for emotional support through those tough times. It felt like the whole world was against me but I had hope. Deep inside, I knew all that was temporary, and change was on its way.
When I left my ex-husband, I was in the middle of my accounting program at Vancouver Community College. The staff introduced me to YWCA’s Connect to Success mentorship program, where I was paired with a mentor in the Accounting industry. My mentor provided me with professional guidance as well as encouragement and emotional support to keep moving and stay positive.
A YWCA Munroe House social worker helped me to apply for a visitor visa for my mother in India to come and help me with my daughter so that I could go back to finish school.
I finished my Certificate in Accounting in 2007 and got an entry-level job in Accounting with the help of resources from YWCA employment center to build my resume and prepare for interviews.
Today, I am proudly living the life I created for us with the help of the YWCA. I am now a designated Chartered Professional Accountant and am working as an Assistant Controller in a company where I am trusted and well respected.
I was approached to join YWCA Connect to Success mentorship program again but as a mentor this time. I jumped at the opportunity. It felt good to tell other women that they can do it too, it gave me the confidence and great feeling to be able to give back the support I once got.
My daughter, who is now 14, is currently volunteering for Family Nights at Munroe House. Her first birthday was there! She says she cannot remember living there, but I am sure she feels the connection as I always do.
I believe that everyone has to create a life they want but sometimes it’s hard to get out of tough situations without any help. Many women like me would be forced to go back to abusive and unsafe environments if they didn’t have a support system. YWCA Metro Vancouver is truly changing lives of women and children in our community. I support their services in any way I can and will continue to do so for the rest of my life. Thank you!”
*Name changed to protect privacy.