“A safe haven:” Nora’s story

Feb 26, 2020

Written by Lola Fakinlede

Almost three decades ago, 53-year-old Nora became pregnant with her first child. She breaks down in tears as she recounts being abandoned by her family: “Being a single mom put my family to shame. They were ashamed of me,” she says. “It was very tough. There were days I thought to myself, ‘What did I get myself into?’”

Nora lived most of her life in poverty and found herself vulnerable to violence. She had no support system and no place to go. She says this is why family and community are so important. “I ran from the violence. Back then, there was no one to help me.”

In 2013, Nora discovered the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre (DEWC) by chance. “One of the workers at the Carnegie Centre showed me,” she recalls. “I asked her, ‘Can I sit with you? I’m cold and wet.’ I was so happy that they showed me [the Women’s Centre]. The Women’s Centre provides everything for me. I’ve never stopped coming [to DEWC].”

For Nora, DEWC became a safe haven. “I feel very safe here. One of the ladies I met here told me: ‘If you ever feel like you are in danger…go to the Women’s Centre because they will protect you. Run there.’” After all she has been through, Nora strongly believes the community makes a difference, especially having safe, accessible and supportive spaces such as DEWC.

“It is very important to have community. Anytime I didn’t feel safe out there, I looked for the Women’s Centre.”

Nora has some important words for other single mothers who are going through the same struggles: “It may be hard, stressful, exhausting. You will be really lucky if you have family to help you. But even if you are a single mom, you are the blessed one. My kids are my treasures. I’d never trade them for anything.” To everyone else, she offers this advice: “Don’t ever let anything get you down. Just smile and say, ‘It’s [going to be] okay.’”

Nora’s story is featured in our 2019 Winter Newsletter. Click here to view an e-version of the newsletter.