SEED Winnipeg Empowered Us
Jean-Pierre Kisama first got involved with SEED by applying to the Saving Circle program, which lead to a referral to SEED’s Transportation Loan Repayment program. Through this program, he could save money and pay off the debt he acquired through immigrating to Canada with his family.
High demand for the Transportation Loan Repayment program meant that Jean-Pierre had to wait until the next round to be accepted, which gave him the opportunity to assist SEED by providing interpretation and orientation for other new clients. Once accepted into the program, he was able to pay off the entirety of his government debt with the matched funds he saved.
Jean-Pierre says he views his time at SEED as an opportunity. “If I help people out, I feel good. If I work for community, I feel good.” This thread runs through much of his life: “Back home,” says Jean-Pierre, “I was a teacher, tour guide, interpreter, and I worked in the community development sector.” The same sector he used to work in is where he turned to for assistance once in Winnipeg, all while continuing to give back.
I was empowered by SEED.
“At the time we came, we did not know how the system worked here in Canada. With that program, we were really empowered: we knew how to plan, how to use the money, how credit works, and how to involve the family in the finances and in the budgeting. All this kind of stuff was very, very helpful.”
“They add follow-up too – they give you homework and make sure you understand exactly what they taught you, that you applied it and understood.”
Four years after arriving, Jean-Pierre continues to work and volunteer in his community. He has given time to Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba (IRCOM) and Independent Living, all while extending the lessons he learned at SEED and elsewhere, paying them forward in his community. In the fall, he plans to take courses at Red River College in Therapeutic Recreation.
Looking back at his journey, Jean-Pierre has this to say: “I am very much changed, because everything in the Canadian system was new for me. I didn’t know where to start, where to go, what to think about, or what to plan. Today I can plan and I know what to think about. I know how to navigate in the social system and the financial system. I can look for jobs: I was empowered by SEED.”