Mery moved to Canada from her native Peru ten years ago. While still living in Peru, she studied culinary arts, and always dreamed of making a career out of cooking, but the
opportunities to work in her chosen field in Canada were limited because she lacked the proper credentials. She ended up working in low paying jobs, relying on friends for help, and living in public housing with her husband and three children.
All that changed three years ago when Mery learned about The Ottawa Mission’s Food Services Training Program. The 5-month program not only allowed Mery to learn new kitchen skills and work in our industrial kitchen, but allowed her to improve her English language skills – thanks, she says, to a great deal of kindness on the part of The Mission’s Chef Ric and his team.
Mery graduated from the program with flying colours in March 2012. The Christmas while she was still in the program was especially special for Mery and her family. Staff from The Mission, who knew they were struggling financially, showed up at her house with a “ready-made” Christmas, including food and gifts for all the children. Mery will never forget that special day.Since then, with the help of an education subsidy, Mery has completed the 2-year Culinary Management program at Algonquin College which she graduated from with honours this spring. Along the way, Mery won awards in Algonquin’s annual Hot Food Competition, and was a finalist in an international culinary competition held in Montreal this year!
Mery now has the career she always hoped for and, as she says, “I am so thankful for the Food Services Program at The Mission – it gave me the chance I needed to pursue my dream of a better life for me and my family.”