• 1100 Medford St, Units 20-22, Ottawa ON K1Z 8L5

Abdul's Story

When I was struggling and thought I’d lose everything, Caldwell Family Centre was there to offer me support.

My name is Abdul. My story is one of struggle, but it also has many happy moments – moments like when I found Caldwell Family Centre. Here, the kind staff helped me keep my housing and gave me support when I needed it most.

It’s thanks to donors and supporters like you that I am where I am today. Without your support through Caldwell Family Centre, I may have become homeless. 

My family left our home in Kuwait when Iraq invaded in 1990 and moved to Canada. We first arrived in Toronto, where I studied and learned English. I then moved to Ottawa to complete my education. I’ve always enjoyed learning and I especially enjoyed learning a new language. After high school, I went to a local college and studied IT security, but struggled to find a job after graduation.

So, I started driving for Uber and doing odd jobs around my apartment complex. Painting, gardening, landscaping, fixing things – these were skills that came naturally to me.

One of the places I fixed up was my landlord’s home. I built him a beautiful organic garden in his backyard, planted a tree, and painted a few rooms. But for the past few years, he has made my life very difficult, and for a while, he was doing everything he could to get me to move out so he could rent my unit for more money. It’s a familiar story to anyone living in low-income housing in Ottawa.

For years, I have helped with landscaping and repairs around the apartment complex. As a handyman, I was happy to give back to my community. My landlord told me an outdoor cat shelter I built for the neighbourhood strays needed to go, and then removed it without giving me an opportunity to work something out. I felt insulted.

When my fridge caught on fire, leaking black smoke into my apartment, the landlord wouldn’t find a suitable replacement unit where I could stay. I had to wear a mask indoors because the smell was so bad. When the apartment was finally cleaned and the charred appliance replaced nearly two weeks later, I opened the new fridge to find it was full of black mold. 

My locker in the basement of the apartment building, where I kept many of my handyman tools, was broken into and many of my things thrown out. Soon after, my parking spot was being used by a new resident. When I asked this new resident about it, he said the landlord had given him this spot.

For two years, it was unrelenting. Clearly, the landlord wanted me out. It was around this time that I had my first panic attack. It felt like a heart attack. I was short of breath, I collapsed on the floor, and was taken to hospital. For two years, I hadn’t been able to work and my life felt out of control. My housing situation was such a burden on my mental health. It was then that I found Caldwell Family Centre.

I met Grace, the family services coordinator at Caldwell Family Centre. With her, we worked together to ensure I could keep my apartment. Working with her felt like there was finally someone on my side who could advocate for me when I was dealing with my landlord. She helped me access other services in community too.

I heard about the drop-in program where I could get breakfast and lunch each day. I had so little left over after rent and bills each month, so I often relied on fast food. At Caldwell Family Centre, I could eat healthy nutritious meals and not have to choose between rent and my phone bill. I lost nearly 40 pounds just from eating healthily! When I needed some winter clothes or groceries, I knew I could rely on Caldwell Family Centre.

I now volunteer at Caldwell Family Centre. I love to give back to the organization that helped me get my life back. Please donate generously. You will be making such a difference in the lives of the more than 4,500 people who come to Caldwell Family Centre in search of food, clothing, and support. People just like me. 

I remember the first day I came to Caldwell Family Centre. I was crying with happiness by the end of the day because I knew there was a place where people cared. There was a place where people could help. 

Thank you for reading my story. 

Abdul