1. Tell us a bit about yourself
My name is Janvier Tuombe. I currently work as Human Resources Assistant at Skills for Change. My daily duties include: participating in the full recruitment cycle (job posting creation, candidate screening, interviews), Employee orientation, development & training logistics, record keeping, providing basic guidance & solutions to employee inquiries on various HR-related issues, maintaining employee files and the digital HR filing system among other administrative duties. I also conduct balance and wellness session every week on Wednesdays, this is an initiative that aims at maintaining employees engagement and ensure that employees receive support.
I was a refugee from Rwanda, my parents fled our country during 1994 genocide war. I speak Swahili and English. I was born in Tanzania and grew up in Kenya. I lived and grew up in Kakuma Refugee Camp for over 15 years under the support of the UNHCR agency. While in the camp, I worked hard in school as education was the only key to changing our lives, and hard work yielded results when I first got my first scholarship to Kenyatta University in 2014 through Windle International Kenya and pursued Business Management and graduated in 2016. After high school and university, I worked as an incentive teacher for a program called KEEP funded by Windle International NGO. In this role, I used to provide girls in primary and secondary education with tuition on the subject of difficulties, mentorship, counseling, supplying essential materials to them and also do community outreach and follow up on girls that dropped out of schools and ensure they came back to school, as there was a low attendance of girls in schools. For example, in one class of 100 students you would find a total of 10 girls in class. I also did my internship after university in a role as an Administrative Clerk of the Human Resource Department at Africa Blooms LTD in Nakuru, Kenya. I have always been interested in working as an HR, because I love helping people and know that I have secured my first role with SFC it is a dream come true.
2. Can you share a bit about your journey to Canada?
I came to Canada in June 2018. My family came to Canada through my elder sister. She moved to Canada in 2012 through World University Service of Canada (WUSC) to study at Brock University, then later on she did research on how families are resettled to Canada and managed to get us here. I am really glad that I am living in Canada right now. Having lived outside my original homeland for a long time without status, I am really glad that finally I am a resident in Canada. Canada is a beautiful country, I like the diversity, there is so many cultures especially in Toronto and I do enjoy trying out different kind of foods, interacting with people from various background and learn some new things from different cultures.
3. What was life like in your home country?
Life is difficult and challenging back home due to limited resources that cannot support everyone like political instability and cultural barriers. I used to feel bad whenever i see someone giving up on their dream just because they cannot afford to pursue anything they want to. A lot of girls back in the camp dropped off school and there was so many cases of early marriage/forced marriage. Kakuma Refugee Camp is located in the North West part of Kenya, which is a semi-Arid area where the weather is not conducive. It is characterized of extreme heat, we experienced very hot sunny days throughout the year and sometimes it rains leading to floodings. I left so many people behind in the Camp, my hope one day is that I may be able to go back and help other refugees and change their lives.
4. How did you get involved with Skills for Change?
I first came across Skills for Change in 2019 through Marigolds & Onions that had hired me back then, but afterwards I lost connection. My sister came across Skills for Change through a Vaccine Clinic Job Fair she attended and Skills for Change was facilitating the interviews and she got hired. Early October, my sister got a notification about another job fair and she encouraged me to attend the job fair. I attended the job fair and they advertised the Administrative Assistant (CSJ) role, I applied, went through interviews and was hired. Shortly before my summer student contract ended, luckily there was an open role of Human Resources Assistant and I applied for the role and was hired immediately.
5. Is there a particular moment or memory that stands out for you?
I enjoy every day working at Skills for Change, as the agency support programs that improve people’s lives in the community. I have received tremendous support from employees from various departments across the agency and I really appreciate. Skills for Change is close knit and works as a family, everyone is nice and very supportive and this creates a healthy working environment. A moment that stood out is when so many changes occurred in the HR department, while I was doing my summer student role at an Administrative level, one of the HR Assistants left and I had to step in to carry on with the daily duties that my colleague was performing at the moment. I was a bit nervous about taking over since i was still new and did not have that much experience. But with encouragement and guidance from the HR team such as Alyssa, Madhavi and other managers like Danielle, I overcame my fear and bravely performed the work well.
6. What are you most proud of in life?
I am proud of how far I have come and despite the challenges that I have gone through. I never gave up, I still managed to pursue my education and am currently going through a second Associate Degree in Human Resources at George Brown College and will be graduating next year mid-summer. Furthermore, I am planning to pursue further studies get a Masters Degree.
7. What inspires you?
My mother is my big inspiration and my hero. My parents separated when I was young and my mum raised six girls by herself in a foreign land. She was not lucky to finish her education but through the skill of sewing, she made things work for us. My mother is a designer, she was trained to make uniforms and also design bags made of patchwork and African prints among other things. She managed to provide basic needs for me and my sisters and pay for our school fees in high school.I have learned a lot of life lessons from her, she taught me to cook and always encourage me and my sister to go for our dreams.
8. What’s the best advice you’ve received in life?
“When life gives you lemons, make lemonades out of it.” “The sky’s the limit and you can never know if you don’t try.”
9. Can you tell us something interesting about yourself that not many people know of?
I love fashion and design and enjoy trying out new styles of outfits and mixing different colours. I enjoy cooking and eating, my favourite dish is pasta, fried rice, BBQ baked chicken. I have always volunteered as a Kidzone Instructor/Teacher from when I was in high school, I enjoy coordinating games for kids, telling them stories, and playing with them. I am currently volunteering as a Kidzone teacher at Grace Tabernacle in Toronto, every Sunday.
10. Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
Thank you so much Skills for Change for doing what you do everyday, for changing lives of people in the community.