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Page added on July 20, 2010

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Filipino Community Development Program – Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association

By: Arnida Bituin – Guillermo

Coordinator- Filipino Community Development Program

“When  Rekha , coordinator of the Bridging the Gap Program of CIWA invited me to share my story, I decided to accept the invitation for 2 main reasons,  to thank the funder s of the program and encourage them to continue funding Bridging the Gap and  to encourage other immigrants like me to take advantage of the valuable programs that are being offered at CIWA. It’s not easy to speak in front of many people, in fact it was my first time but I decided to do it because I also want to impart to everybody that based on my experience there’s no special formula for success, sabi nga sa atin “daig ng taong masikap at matiyaga ang taong matalino”.

These were the exact words uttered by Maria Lourdes Beltran – Bayot when I told her I wanted to write her success story and be able to share it with the Filipino community. She was still so thrilled and excited after being able to speak in front of the CIWA staff during our Annual General Assembly at the Chamber of Commerce.

She was born and raised in Pangasinan, finished and practiced accounting (with 12 years of experience) and just like other Filipinos, came to Canada to seek a better future. She landed in Jasper as a temporary foreign worker in a hotel where she was assigned to laundry. Luckily, she was among those sponsored by the employer under the Provincial Nominee Program and she officially became permanent resident on Feb 28, 2008. Three months after becoming a permanent resident, she went back to the Philippines and married her long time boyfriend. When she came back, a month after, she decided, Calgary is the place to go, and through an agency she landed a job in a bank as accounts reconciliation staff where she worked for three months.

Maria learned about CIWA (Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association) who was offering the Bridging the Gap program. The program is offered to foreign trained accountants for free, wanting to take up accounting courses to upgrade her skills, she applied for the course but only after two weeks. She was the last of the three applicants for the day to be interviewed and there was only one slot left. After a few days, she got a call from the program coordinator that she passed the interview and she will be attending course soon! Maria was very happy, but on the other side was anxious. For her, participating fulltime in the program is a risk. It’s a full time course and she won’t be able to work to support her financial needs. But driven by her desire to land an accounting job, she made a decision to go for it. She thought that Bridging the Gap was her only hope since she cannot afford to take courses which she cannot afford financially.

What she did? She tried to find part time job to be able to support her financial needs while attending the course. She worked at the Calgary Coop-Downtown Branch from 5-10pm. She said it was difficult and challenging because she did not have enough time to study and do her home work. She needs to be up by five every morning so she can do her assignments and be in school on or before 8:30. Maria successfully finished the course which included on the job training for six months.

After completing the course, Maria immediately landed a job as an accountant in charge of accounts receivables at the Southland Transit. Right now, she is preparing to take another step to the ladder of success. Sponsored by her employer, she will be taking up another accounting related course in September.

She wanted to share the lessons she have learned from everything that she went through…”It’s knowing what we really want in life”. According to her, even before she came to Canada, she already figured out where she wanted to go and what she really wanted to become. For her, dreaming without action is nothing. She did not stop walking and taking the right steps to achieve her goals, no matter how slow they seem to be.

She barely spent time going out and having fun. She spent her time wisely by attending free workshop and training programs at CIWA (Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association).

Well, her journey has just begun and she is very much on the right track. Good Luck to you and more power Maria!

What is Bridging the gap program?

Clients who have education and experience in accounting background and are seeking accounting employment were referred to CIWA’s program called Bridging the Gap for Foreign Trained Accountants Program. The program helps professional immigrant women with accounting and finance background transition into entry level accounting positions in Canada. It is a twenty four week program composed of fourteen weeks of training followed by a ten week work experience placements. Participants gain:

  • Training in enhanced English, basic accounting principles and Canadian workplace culture
  • Ten weeks of Canadian accounting work experience
  • Opportunity to earn a Canadian professional reference
  • Computer training in QuickBooks, Simply accounting and MS Excel
  • Knowledge of the steps and qualifications required to become a Certified General

Accountant (CGA), Certified Management Accountant (CMA) and Chartered   Accountant (CA

For this semester, three clients from the Filipino Community Development Program successfully passed the screening and were among those who started attending the program in June. Another batch will be screened for the next batch this year which will start in October.

Those who are interested to participate and follow Maria’s footsteps may connect with Arnida Bituin – Guillermo for an appointment and referral to the program.

Phone Number: 403-2634414 ext 140


One Comment on "Filipino Community Development Program – Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association"

  1. Abigail on Mon, 26th Jul 2010 10:25 pm 

    Hi! It is an inspiring article. I am still in the process of obtaining a PR VISA and if in God’s will we will be approved, we may be in Vancouver Canada by 2nd quarter of next year.

    More power and God bless.


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