April 1, 2022

A Woman’s Battle for Independence

Our company was founded because of the Syrian refugee crisis. A story of friends brought together while trying to help during a time of crisis.Because our story is known in the refugee and immigrant community, new Canadians often reach out to us looking for help making connections and/or to see if we have or are aware of any opportunities for them.

Somebody reached out recently whose story we found particularly inspirational. Her name is Enas.

Enas is from Yemen and is the youngest of 14 children. Since 2015, Yemen has been in a complicated civil war that left thousands of people dead, and the country thrown back a century – no electricity, limited medical support, and none of the basic services we take for granted coupled with the constant threat of violence. Enas’ cousin and their entire family was killed in their own home, and she has had many other friends and family perish because of the war.

Enas’ mom passed away in 2012 before the war started, but her spirit made an impression. In a country where women are supposed to have permission from their husband and be accompanied on travel, her mom would not follow these rules, telling her father where she was going and not taking “no” for an answer. Her father, a businessman, is a kind, supportive and accepting man. His supportive nature has been tested by his youngest daughter.

Enas finished high school in 2013 and started her studies in media related courses prior to the war starting. With the start of the war, the quality of education dropped severely. Since the age of 12 Enas told her dad of her desire to learn, travel and live a different life than what hers would be in Yemen. With the war and the end of most opportunities in Yemen for women, she pushed even harder. In 2017, her dad agreed to support her leaving Yemen to study in Jordan. Once there, Enas realized two things: Jordan was not the place she wanted to be, and she could not afford to be anywhere else without some help. She searched for ways to make her dream come true of living her life as a free independent woman. She found the World University Service of Canada (WUSC) and their student refugee program.

Enas applied to WUSC and after surviving a rigorous selection process, she was one of the lucky few awarded a scholarship for two years of post-secondary studies in Canada. She would also be on a fast track to becoming a permanent resident of the country – Winnipeg would be her destination.

Once here in Winnipeg, Enas’ first year at the University of Manitoba focused on English studies, her second on more general topics.

With the two-year scholarship over and unable to self-finance the completion of a university degree, Enas moved on to college. She is taking a one-year program on photography and videography and will graduate in April.

Being a go-getter, Enas approached us with an offer to do some work for free to get some experience – How could we say “no?” – We don’t do much video and have always wanted to do more. Enas came up with the storyline for a short, simple video to explain why we started making our two feta cheeses.  We posted it on our social media this week.

Enas hopes to find solid employment here in Canada and to live her life with the freedoms we enjoy. She’s passionate about storytelling and hopes to use her interest and skills in the area to both support herself and to be able to help others who have been through similar experiences as she has.

You can reach Enas on Instagram @enasalainiphotography or via email at enasalaini@gmail.com.