My name is Lubna Khalid and I am from Pakistan. A country who very few knew about but when they did it was all for wrong reasons. And still today no one knows much about the real Pakistan.
My story begins when I married my husband 12 yrs ago only knowing that he lives in a country called Canada where I will be in few months. I got married when I finished my Masters in Physiology. I got married and my husband came to Toronto and applied for my Visa.
I spent 9 months with my in-laws like a very typical Pakistani daughter in law. Looking after my in-laws and doing daily chores. Morning till night it was always busy, waiting for vegetable and fruit vendors, cooking and cleaning, listening to the neighbours gossip, watching daily soaps about mother in laws and their evil plans which are not always true and then at night writing to my husband and asking him when can I see him again.
And finally the day arrived and I packed my bags and followed my husband here to Toronto. I had dreams like every new immigrant that I will live in a country which I will call home and will use my knowledge and studies for the benefit of every one.
I went searching about my options and found out that I have to study to get a proper job. I went for a shortcut and did a 6 months diploma in Medical lab Assisting and started working in a Lab. My in laws were living with me at the time, so I kept on working and had my 3 kids during their stay with me and then they had to leave. May be they thought I will keep on having kids if they lived here longer…..
I had to quit my job and stayed with my kids. Child care was too expensive. It wasn’t easy. Motherhood was too demanding and I found that by not working and only caring for the kids full time I lost my self . I felt depressed and had low self esteem. I did not think highly of myself as a useful person. Everything I did was a toll on me. I would criticize myself on every little thing and I thought if I am not earning I was not contributing to my family needs.
It was affecting my family and me in a way that I was afraid I might lose my sanity. I heard about a community program for new comer women. It was about expressing ourselves through arts and crafts. My friends and I started attending and it was a turning point in my life. Whatever we made in the sessions was appreciated so much it made us realize that we can still do so much with ourselves. I started thinking positively about myself and my role as a mom and it changed my life’s perspective entirely. When the program ended I felt the need to start the same kind of program for the community women. I brought them together in their spare time and helped them in any way I could to make them comfortable in the new environment and support them in their goals.
I waited 5 years for my kids to go to school and last year all 3 of them started school full time. I thought of going back to school and started looking around for my options. I wanted to be recognised as a technologist as per my education as compared to technician which I became so found an undergraduate program in Oshawa university and thought that it will be easy for me to get admission and started working on the requirements. One of them was high school diploma in English and maths or TOEFL or equivalent. I went to an adult school and had myself assessed for grade 12 math and English so I can attend the school, get my diploma in 3 months and get admission. I thought by having that I will not have to go through TOEFL again as I have done it before and it expired in couple of years.
But guess what? I achieved the highest level in both and found out I was over qualified. I asked them if they can give me anything that proves that I don’t need to improve my English and math skills as I meet the requirements but I was told I have to attend the school to get the diploma but I am overqualified and ineligible. I leave it to you to think how impossible it is with my qualification to prove I am good in grade 12 English and Maths. It was suggested that I go the faculty of the university and ask the advisor what I should do with my credentials to get an admission.
After weeks of calling and sending e mails to 2 of the advisors I found out that 1 is on maternity leave and the other is busy with the already enrolled students and they can only see me after the semester is over. This means I will be too late for this year and will have to wait for 1 more year just to see if I am qualified enough to get admitted in an undergraduate program.
After 12 long years in Canada, I find myself still a newcomer, as I am going through the same struggle which every newcomer does coming from other country and having foreign degrees which are only good for conversations with strangers.
Will there be an easier way to prove ourselves to employers that we are qualified too?
I hope I live long enough to see it ………
I would like to thank Mennonite New Life Center and Voices from the Street for giving me this tremendous opportunity to share my story so openly with all of you which would have stayed with me forever.
Credit: Immigrants Voice