“You can’t build anything if you don’t have the basics.”

One evening, I checked in with a young man named Sam* who is staying with us at our Crisis Program. He shared about the long hours he works every day. Sam often looked tired, with bags under his eyes during the weekends when his work gets super busy.

I thanked him for sharing and I felt that a little window opened in Sam’s heart and he wanted to share more about his life. I continued to listen to him talking about his home country, his mum, and his two grandmas that he misses every day. He shared about the amazing meals that his mum used to cook and how he learned to cook from her. There was so much passion and love in his voice and in his eyes. It was clear how much he missed them.

I told him that he has so many strengths and so much resilience, and that it was him who made all the decisions to get to where he is today. Sam told me that he is a hard worker because the country where he is from is very tough, and not many young people survive. He shared with me how many of his childhood friends are dead or in jail because of the choices they had to make.

“Covenant House is a great place” he said, “and I am so grateful to everybody”. He put his hand on his heart and continued by saying that we allowed him to have a “floor under his feet”. I asked if he meant like a foundation, and he smiled happily, “Yes, that’s what I mean, a foundation.”

Sam continued to share more about his journey, saying, “Covenant House gave me what I needed immediately so I can start building my life. I had a bed, food, shower, clothes, and the basics. You can’t build anything if you don’t have the basics.”

Sam’s story is just one example of many youth who, in the past few years, started to show up on our doorstep from places like Afghanistan, Iraq, South America, and Saudi Arabia. They left home because of war and other turmoil. Most of them left all their family behind, all their friends, and their homes.

Covenant House Vancouver is often where they feel safe for the first time. It’s the place where they can take care of themselves and start to fulfill their dreams.

Shared by Anka, Youth Worker at our Crisis Program.

*Sam’s name changed for confidentiality.