Fleeing not only gang violence but from the man who tried to kill her son, one recent immigrant from Colombia knows she’s found her dream in Prince George.
Linda Zapata and her sons Jhonatan, 21, and Juan Pablo, 13, left Colombia Feb. 27, 2009 and spent the next eight years and 20 days (she knew precisely when asked) as refugees in Ecuador before making their way to Canada.
“His father was violent against Juan Pablo and tried to kill him,” said Linda, through translator Rosemary Raygada Watanabe, the women and seniors program coordinator at IMSS.
Life was better in Ecuador and Linda, who is a seamstress, continued her work as a dressmaker while son Jhonatan is a chef and worked as a Red Cross volunteer, something he’d like to continue here in Canada.
“I like helping people in the community,” said Jhonatan, who came to the aid of people affected by the April 16, 2016, 7.8-magnitude earthquake in Ecuador during his time with the Red Cross.
Now that the family is safely in Canada, Linda hopes to turn her career goals from seamstress to something more meaningful.
“I want to study to be a social worker so that I can help many women who have experienced what I experienced in Colombia,” she said tearfully. “I can’t explain how I feel about coming to Canada – everything is just perfect. It’s like a dream.”
Meanwhile, Juan Pablo is a typical teenager and said he’s bored because he has no friends and nothing to do. Raygada Watanabe said once he’s had some English language lessons provided by IMSS and through School District 57 he’ll be able to communicate, which will lead to making friends quickly.
The Zapata family was sponsored by Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church and the seven members of the Santander family are sponsored by the Central Fellowship Baptist Church.
Maria and John Santander also came through Ecuador from Colombia and after eight years were able to come to Canada. Their family includes Sebastian, 18, Jayro, 17, Tatiana, 11, Manolo, 8, and Alejandro, 5.
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