Lani got a job in a camp at the Mica Dam, near Revelstoke. “At first I didn’t talk to anyone. I was sad, I didn’t have any friends.” But over time, Lani made friends at the camp, where she eventually met her husband. In 2009, the couple had a baby boy named Evan.
Lani got information about programs for families from Welcome Wagon. When Evan was three months old, Lani and her mother-in-law took him to the Mother Goose program in Revelstoke. “I thought it was fun. I didn’t know any of the baby songs but I met other moms.”
The Mother Goose program facilitator printed the songs for Lani and she studied them at home. “My husband said ‘it’s not a test’ but I wanted to get the words right!”
When Lani and her family moved to Castlegar she looked online to find programs she could attend with Evan. She found what she was looking for at Kootenay Family Place – a family literacy program offered by the Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy (CBAL) for English as a Second Language (ESL) families with young children.
Lani made friends at the ESL family program, lots of friends, and became an unofficial leader of the group, organizing parties, play dates and outings. “In Revelstoke I had a big group of Filipino friends. I was afraid I would be lonely in Castlegar. But, when you meet people who have all come from a different country, you connect.”
Lani noticed a difference in Evan too. He enjoyed doing the crafts and listening to stories in circle. His social skills improved, and he became more independent.
“ESL Family Time is a wonderful program. It is good for the parents and good for the kids. It helped Evan be ready for school. I enjoy the speakers. We have had a dental-hygienist, public health nurse and yoga teacher come to the program to talk to the parents.”
Now that Evan is going to school, Lani is attending ESL Family Time with her daughter Katelyn. She has also been able to attend other literacy programs designed to help adults improve their reading, writing and speaking skills in English.
“I like it in Canada. It is very family oriented. In the Philippines families live close together. In Canada families are close in other ways.”
For more information about literacy programs in your community visit cbal.org.
By Margaret Sutherland
Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy