Kadija’s journey to provide elder care in Newfoundland and Labrador

Kadija, a nurse from Somalia living as a refugee in Ethiopia, will be relocating to work at a long-term care home in St. John’s.

Kadija always knew she wanted to be a nurse, ever since she was a young girl in Somalia taking care of her grandmother, but she never knew her dream could take her across the ocean.

“We didn’t have family members with medical education, so becoming a nurse was a big aspiration for me,” she says, made even more complicated by the violence of the civil war in Somalia.

In 2008, Kadija and her aunt left their home and claimed refugee status in Ethiopia. Despite the difficult conditions in the camp, Kadija continued to work hard at her dream, excelling at school and earning a scholarship to university to study nursing. Things were not easy – Kadija notes that the university had electricity 24 hours a day, which was a luxury compared to the rest of the camp where she lived.

Despite the difficulties, Kadija stood out among her peers for her passion and hard work. “The professors knew I was a refugee, and they supported and encouraged me even more,” she says. She thrived in her nursing program, ultimately receiving top grades in pediatrics and obstetrics. But her lifelong passion, for providing dignified and expert care for elderly patients, is what made her profile attractive to recruiters in Newfoundland and Labrador.

After being in contact with TalentLift Canada, and facilitated by a UNHCR staff member, Kadija was shortly thereafter connected to the Newfoundland and Labrador Health Services. The province, which has a labour shortage, is in need of talented and passionate medical staff like Kadija to care for their aging population. The partnership between TalentLift and the provincial health authority has been a natural fit – matching educated and skilled people in refugee situations with the hospitals and care homes in the province, and has so far resulted in 46 matches, including Kadija.

Kadija will move to Canada in the coming months, and will begin work as a Personal Care Attendant at a care home in Mount Pearl, a community outside St. John’s. She is also planning on picking up her studies again, to further her medical skillset and knowledge, particularly in the area of gynaecology and women’s health. While she is nervous about leaving her aunt, she says she’s most looking forward to getting to work, to showing her new patients the high level of care she’s passionate about and has developed a knack for over the years. “I like taking patients for walks and helping with their medication and nutrition – it’s their time to receive the love and care our mothers gave us,” she says.

While her working life in Mount Pearl will be a continuation of the high quality of nursing she’s been doing for years, there’s one significant and new experience she’s looking forward to: “I’ve never been to the ocean. I can’t wait to see it.”

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