Carolina’s Story:

Seeking support to thrive


Carolina and her family left everything behind in Venezuela to start a new life in Canada, choosing Calgary because of its educational opportunities for her daughter. But Carolina’s dreams of finding financial stability led her to enroll in Momentum’s self-employment program. Financially supported by United Way of Calgary and Area, the six-month course is available to low-income or unemployed Albertans seeking financial independence. Thanks to the Momentum course and lots of commitment and hard work, Carolina is now the proud owner of Arepas Ranch, a thriving food truck, eatery, and family business.

Programs like these supply tools and resources for creating socio-economic security. They are a building block to avoiding poverty, building stronger relationships, better mental health, and creating more social inclusion.

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“Because of United Way and Momentum I can worry less and focus on my dreams…”

I was born and raised in Venezuela. In 1989 we had a big problem in our country, which we called Los Cerros Bajaron. It was a dangerous situation, and it was a bad economic situation as well.

We had a little boy, who was almost three years old, and it was a traumatic time for us. One morning my husband took our son to daycare before we went out of town for work. When the problems started, everything stopped in one day. I was not able to return home and my husband was not able to, either. We didn’t know where our son was, or how he was doing.

When we finally were able to go home we found our son and he started crying when he saw us. We started talking and we said, “We have to get out of here. We cannot stay here.” That was the moment. In just one moment, everything was finished. I had to leave my family behind and that was really hard. I left my mom and dad, my siblings. But I was also thinking of my little boy.

At the beginning we were really scared, we didn’t know much about Canada. The only thing that was in our head is that Canada was really cold, so we filled our luggage with blankets. I was scared (to go through customs) but we passed customs, and my husband said to me, “This is our new life and we are going to stay here. Don’t worry. Nothing is going to take us out of this country, we are going to stay here.” And he was right!

We decided to come to Calgary when my daughter was accepted at the ballet school here and she was only 16 years old. When I got here, I thought, “Wow!” I really like Calgary; I really like Alberta.” People here are very open, and all people have opportunities to go and make whatever they want to do.

“One day we went to GlobalFest and we saw all the food trucks. We saw Chilean people selling food and I said to my husband, “We can do that. One day, I want to be here.” So we started looking for food truck.

“In Venezuela, the people eat arepas every day, three times a day, even more if they can. It’s our traditional thing. When I was young, when I was little girl, I liked to go in the kitchen and see my mother doing the arepas. And like every kid, I loved to get some dough and play with it.

“(Starting the food truck) was really difficult. Before we found out about Momentum, we were running our business without knowledge, doing whatever we thought we had to do. Momentum showed us how to do things the right way. I got the tools to make things work better. I learned about staffing, taxes, reports, advertising, and so many other things.

“Because of United Way and Momentum, I can worry less and focus more on my dreams, on my projects.”

A photo of Carolina, text reads: ``Because of United Way and Momentum I can worry less and focus on my dreams.``

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Elijah BeaverCarolina