Moumenah's Story - United Way Alberta Capital Region

Moumenah’s Story

October 4, 2022


Empowering newcomers to build a new life

Moumenah and her husband came to Canada in 2019 as Syrian refugees. Not only had they left their home behind to escape war, but they also had to navigate the Canadian financial system while facing language barriers and cultural differences.

“In Syria, we didn’t have to deal with banking. But when I got here, I found out that everything was different,” says Moumenah. To build her confidence, Moumenah took part in an Empower U course offered through Islamic Family.

“For me, the course wasn’t just about finance, it was about the whole lifestyle here in Canada,” she says.

Empower U is a United Way program that provides participants with financial literacy training and a matched savings program. It’s offered at several agencies in the Edmonton region, and the facilitators collaborate on best practices while also tailoring the program to meet the unique needs of its participants.


At Islamic Family, programming is offered in English, Arabic, Somali, Urdu, Punjabi, and Hindi, and includes lessons on newcomer supports and the differences between Canadian banking and Islamic banking.

“We were looking into innovative ways to address food insecurity and to break the cycle of poverty,” explains Reem Al-Hag-Ahmad, community services coordinator and financial literacy facilitator at Islamic Family.

“We found out that our clients needed financial literacy. They’re not able to save because they’re trying to survive. Being a part of the Empower U program has allowed us to learn from expertise, best practices, diverse delivery, and instruction methods adapted by other agencies.”

Through Empower U, Moumenah learned how to budget her limited income and build her credit. Reem helped Moumenah purchase a sewing machine to pursue her creative passions and has since found a sewing job that she loves.

“Thank you, United Way, for supporting this program,” says Moumenah. “It has helped us put food on our table here in Canada and helped us learn how to live and survive here…We are so grateful and excited for the future.”

Thanks to United Way supporters, Moumenah has the confidence and knowledge to build a happy, stable life in Canada.