Reem is an incredible young lady and CHV youth alumna.

In May, we shared the story of Reem’s childhood and what brought her to CHV. Having to be the primary caregiver of her younger siblings, at only age 10, in the Philippines, robbed Reem of her childhood.  

Later that month, we shared the second installment of Reem’s story that talked about her arrival at Covenant House Vancouver, and how she began to work on her mental health as part of her journey to heal her inner child.

Today, we’d like to share the final chapter of Reem’s story with you.

Rights of Passage Program

Reem’s social worker felt that Reem was ready for the next step in her journey and advocated for her to transfer into CHV’s Rights of Passage (ROP) program. In ROP, Reem applied for scholarships, became involved in the Mentorship Program, and received housing support. Reem worked with her social worker to learn about safe relationships, healthy boundaries, and how she could reach her goals sooner.

“Just because you’re setting boundaries doesn’t mean you have to be a bad person. I was always taught that if you set boundaries, you were being disrespectful. But there’s a beauty in it that I saw, and I decided that I wanted to be that person.”

Reem continued to see her counsellor and partook in dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT): “The reason why I stuck with DBT for over a year was because that each time I went to therapy, I was learning something new about myself.”

In addition to counselling and participating in activities, Reem really wanted to work on her education. She had taken some medical science courses in the Philippines, so she initially tried taking the prerequisites to nursing. She realized then that the medical world was not for her.

“During my last year at Covenant House, I was offered a scholarship and I decided that I would dive into law, so I took the legal assistant program. I enjoy law more than I would have enjoyed nursing.”

And then something happened that Reem never would have thought could happen: “Because of the supportive environment [at CHV], I was able to dig my toes into pageantry. My family was shocked! My siblings were shocked because I was someone who didn’t really put myself out there. When I dove into pageantry, the staff were super, super supportive. I was experimenting with my hairstyle, with my clothing style, with everything. I prepared for the pageant for over a year, and I came back with a title. I won the title of Miss Philippines International of BC!”

When Reem’s family began to notice the changes in her, they began to change themselves. Reem used the skills that she learned at CHV to connect with her family in positive ways. Her family apologized for the way that they treated her. “When I won the pageant, I placed the crown on my mom’s head. I said, ‘This is all for you.’ She has become a change woman herself.”

“I really want to start a platform, not just because of pageantry, but because I have always had a sense of justice and advocacy. Whatever I have learned today, I want to pass down to vulnerable youth. I want them to advocate for themselves and take a step further in chasing after their dreams.”

“I feel like if I hadn’t found Covenant House, I would be somewhere else still looking for help. At Covenant House, I formed a relationship with myself where I finally honoured my emotions, my boundaries, my energy, and my dreams and goals. This was not something I expected myself to do. I’ve always been a people pleaser, but you can’t pour from an empty cup.”

“What changed my life was the support, the unconditional love, the non-judgmental environment and, I can’t highlight this enough, the counselling sessions. The one thing I’m proud of is that I can finally advocate for myself in a way that’s not just black and white, but I can also think in the grey areas. Right now, my relationships have been great because I have a great relationship with myself.”

“I currently work at a law firm as a legal support assistant. I’ve been enjoying my work so far. I’m hoping to work towards my paralegal diploma, in the next year or so. I’m thinking about getting into immigration law or working with the healthcare union, to help fix the system or make the system more accessible to the people who need it.”

“One thing that I told Covenant House as I was parting with them was, ‘When you’re helping women, you’re not only saving a life, you’re also saving a whole line of generations to come, who will make a difference in the world,’ so thank you.”

It is because of the amazing support of donors, like you, that make it possible for youth, like Reem, to overcome adversity and work towards the futures that they deserve.

If you would like to support youth on their journeys to independence and self-advocacy, you may do so here.

Thank you.