Rami’s Story: Light at the End of the Tunnel 

man looking awayWhen Rami arrived in Canada from the Middle East, he was already lost and destroyed.  In his home country he had endured so many years of violence through war, persecution and even incarceration because of his sexual orientation. The situation was so difficult that he had developed post-traumatic stress disorder.  He had lost all hope. “When I came to Canada, I felt like a zero as a person.”

Rami also speaks mainly Arabic which made getting the health care services he needed very difficult. He learned from others in his community that there was an Arabic speaking counselor at Carizon who might be able to help him with his nightmares, stress and suicidal thoughts. 

A unique collaboration between counselling agency Carizon and the French/multicultural mental health coordinator at the Waterloo Wellington Dufferin branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association helped to ensure that Rami was connected as soon as possible to psychiatric services, counselling and medications that helped.

These health service providers working together to wrap care, support and services around Rami helped him to feel safe and comfortable again.  While he waited for an available psychiatrist, he was able to receive support from his Carizon counsellor in his own language. Going to the psychiatrist with his counsellor as his interpreter made his appointments easier. He trusted that his story would be shared with his psychiatrist in the right way, his way. 

“I found the light at the end of the tunnel,” Rami explains. “My counsellor supported me and treated me with respect.  It made it easier for me to go to my appointments.  Through these sessions and my counsellor, I found hope again and began to think my life could be different.”  

Rami credits his positive experience to the fact that the care coordinator at CMHA was able to provide him services in his preferred language and in a way that was supportive of his cultural beliefs and sexual orientation.   

Partnerships among health care providers in Waterloo Wellington is helping to address health inequities, including the social determinants of health.  These are the living conditions that surround us including income, level of education, access to food and shelter, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation. Social determinants impact our health more than health care and a healthy lifestyle. 

Health equity is a priority at the Waterloo Wellington LHIN.  This means that we and all of our health service partners are working to ensure that people in our communities get the care and support that they need, and that care will consider culture, language, sexual orientation and other determinants of health.  

 “As a refugee, this kind of collaboration is crucial because without that support it’s almost impossible to survive,” says Rami. “People shouldn’t fall through the cracks. They didn’t give up on me. Now I feel like I am at 75 per cent and I can start giving back to my community.”