For Valentine’s Day, Ve’ahavta reached out to two of our program graduates to learn the secret of having a long-term relationship. Caroline Isemede, a recent graduate of Ve’ahavta’s Building Foundations for Women (BFW), and Godwin Isemede, a Ve’ahavta Skills Academy graduate, will be celebrating 19 years of marriage this coming June.
“Being close friends before marriage helps,” says Caroline, whose husband Godwin came from a different tribe in Nigeria and spoke a different language. Godwin sees having respect for each other as key.
Caroline and Godwin are newcomers to Canada, having arrived as refugees this past July. Caroline heard about BFW through someone at the shelter where they were staying. She then heard about VSA and told Godwin about it, who joined the program. The couple ended up graduating on the same day when Ve’ahavta held a joint graduation ceremony on December 20, 2018.
Caroline says that she is “sure of herself now,” attributing her increased determination and strength to the BFW program. She takes better care of herself and her emotions. Through a vocational assessment, she developed her long-term goal of becoming a nurse. She also learned how to communicate with people who have different personality traits than herself, which helped to improve her relationship with her husband.
Godwin was a professional cellular network engineer back in Nigeria. While he ultimately would like to advance his education, for now he has applied for a work permit so he can make a living for his family. He has three children, including his eldest daughter who will soon be starting college, which he says is expensive. He knows that his wife would also like to return to school.
Godwin says VSA has been supporting him to settle in Canada, exposing him to the diversity of cultures that make up this country and providing him with a whole new family with the BFW and VSA participants. VSA staff have also supported him around finding affordable housing and with determining which jobs he could do with his qualifications.
Back in Nigeria, Godwin says Valentine’s Day was a holiday during which he and his colleagues and their families would reach out to people who were less fortunate. They would provide books, pencils and other essential supplies to these families and show educational films, and plan games and fun for their children. His colleagues and their significant others would also celebrate with a Valentine’s Day dinner.
As for managing the ups and downs of relationships, Godwin, a Christian, says that it’s important to put your relationship in God’s hands. “If you argue, you can’t pray because you aren’t on good terms with your partner.” He says you need to go and work it out with your partner and then “happiness is coming back.”
Interested in volunteering for BFW or VSA? You can apply to be a workshop facilitator, please see our Adult Volunteering Opportunities.