Summer 2009: Carole Nkoa [fr]
Carole was born to a French mother and a Cameroonian father in Yaounde. She grew up with her three sisters in the green capital city of Cameroon which, like Lisbon or Roma, was built on the sides of seven hills. Upon completion of her high school diploma, she moved to Alsace, a region of France bordering Germany and Switzerland where her mother’s family originally stems from. Carole studied psychology at the University of Strasbourg and started a 2-year course in communications.
Intrigued by the force and the beauty of the Canadian multiculturalism, Carole decided to try her luck across the Atlantic, even if it meant she had to start studying all over again. “The University of Laval, in Quebec City, was the first one to answer me. My decision was made”, she explained. So, she went back to school and focused carefully on her courses; still in communications, still in French; but this time, the different accent reminded her every day that she was definitely in Canada.
Driven by a real need of independence, Carole tried her best to find a student-job and after few months of perseverance, she landed a Teacher Assistant’s position. Once she completed her degree, she felt very attracted to English-speaking Canada. Without an ounce of hesitation, she moved to Toronto where she found her first job, just two days before her working visa was due to expire. This anecdote illustrates Carole’s tenacious character, a woman who always proactively takes action to achieve her goals and fulfil her dreams, big or small. “Here in Canada, only snow falls from the sky”, the rest you have to go and get yourself; and that is exactly what Carole did!
Hence, she entered the Torontonian job market in 2006 and landed a position as manager of communications at Oasis Women Centre (OWC). This job that allowed her to stay in Canada in extremis is still hers to date and she is definitely not willing to let it go: she loves her job and takes her mission seriously.
Oasis is "a French-speaking and feminist organization that works toward eliminating violence and improving women’s life in the greater Toronto area”. This charity is a real refuge for thousands of women who are victims of physical and emotional violence. Oasis also monitors all types of aggressions, including financial and religious abuse which are less discernible but with consequences no less devastating. The objective of Carole and her colleagues is to give women back their total independence and dignity; and “to set them at the centre of their recovery”. To do so, Oasis founding members implemented various workshops: yoga, self-defence, individual meetings, art therapy sessions, etc. A support line open 24 hours a day was also created. Since she arrived, Carole has been working to give Oasis more visibility in the public eye: this is a way to show abused women that they are not alone, and to remind authorities and citizens that violence against women is an enduring plague that needs to be addressed. The United Nations classifies abuse against women – whether it happens in the home or elsewhere – as a human rights violation. As Amnesty International puts it, “Violence against women is a violation of human rights that cannot be justified by any political, religious, or cultural claim.”
Oasis Women Centre does a remarkable work, a work that deserves the attention and the support of all communities. Sincere congratulations to Carole and all the people that are fighting so that women’s rights and their dignity are respected…
If you want to support Oasis, make a donation or learn more about their work and mission, please visit their website: http://www.oasisfemmes.org/