“My religion was a problem for them (the government) and the biggest pain I suffered was that my husband and I had to leave our country in 2009,” Helen sums up her anguish succinctly.
Helen, a university graduate who majored in public administration, however, sees a silver lining in this dark cloud.
“My two children were born in Uganda and eventually we came to Canada in 2013. My third one is a born Canadian. So it was growth. My family grew,” she says with a big smile on her face.
Helen has progressed and now holds a licence in selling life insurance products and portfolios. Such is the love for her adapted country that her face lights up at the very mention of Canada.
Helen, herself, is giving back to the community in a positive way. Besides being involved in clothing giveaway events twice a year, she helps fellow Eritreans and Ethiopians with resume writing.
“As a Canadian now, I know the importance of social participation, community support, peer networking and donations.” Selling insurance products, community involvement and being a full-time mom to three superb kids.
“For now, I think my hands are full,” she concludes.
Fact File: Eritrea
According to Human Rights Watch: “Eritrea’s dismal human rights situation, exacerbated by indefinite military conscription, has led thousands of Eritreans to flee every month.” A United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Eritrea concluded in 2015 that the Eritrean government engages in “systemic, widespread and gross human rights violations” carried out in a “context of a total lack of rule of law.” Tens of thousands of Eritreans arrive on Europe's shores seeking asylum. Five thousand Eritreans leave the country each month, the UN commission found, making it one of the world's top producers of refugees.
They make up a significant share of the unprecedented stream of migrants and refugees making their way to the European Union. Conscription in the national-service program is the factor most commonly cited by asylum seekers who have fled the country.
The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said they dealt with 3,57,406 Eritrean refugees as of 2014.
(Source: UNHCR, UN Commission of Inquiry)