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On a Mission to Make a Difference

Analyn Ibarra's mission in life is to care for people, a passion she expresses each time she works at CONNECT.

Analyn can usually be found at CONNECT's East House in Langley, taking English courses at New Directions, volunteering at the Langley Hospital, Magnolia Gardens, the Langley Lodge or teaching Catechism.

Originally from the Philippines, she applied in 2004, when she was 24, to take a job as a domestic helper/caretaker in Taiwan. "It was my first time leaving the country and I felt I was still attached to my mother's umbilical cord when I left. It was a big step." Both Analyn and her sister left the Philippines to work overseas. She said many people in the Philippines have family members working overseas and sending money back home. Her first choice was Canada, but Taiwan is where she and her sister ended up going.

"My sister and I left so we could work and send money to my parents and help pay for school for my siblings. There is work in the Philippines, but not enough work for everyone in every family." After three years in Taiwan, Analyn moved to Langley and her sister moved to Edmonton. Analyn took a job working as a nanny for a Langley family and ended up staying with them for four years. She studied as a Care Aide in Vancouver while nannying.

In May of 2010, she applied for a job at CONNECT.

"The mother of the woman I worked for was a nurse in Victoria and gave me an overview of what to expect when working with people with brain injury. What behaviors to expect, how to interact with them."

She says CONNECT has a flexible, relaxed work environment and provides all the training she needs to do her job. The biggest challenge she has found at CONNECT is communicating with the non-verbal residents. "I can usually figure out what they are trying to communicate through gestures, but sometimes it takes days or weeks to get to know the way a person expresses themselves so you can communicate without words." The highlight at CONNECT has been the work environment with other house staff, residents, families and office staff.

Analyn plans to move to Edmonton next year where her sister is based so they can bring their father to Canada for a while. "My papa has wanted to come to Canada to be with us since my mom passed away on November 5, 2011." Analyn's three brothers and another sister will stay in the Philippines. "I think caring for people comes very natural to me because in the Philippines we care for our family members ourselves, rather than putting them in the hospital or in a home. People here work a lot and don't have time, but in the Philippines, we have more time."