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Rebooting a life

Roughly a year ago, 24-year-old Taniel Tanielian fled war-torn Syria, questioning what his new life in Toronto would bring. To him, only one thing was certain: he had to succeed—for the family he left behind.

In 2014, Taniel and his family were forced out of their hometown, Kessab, when forces opposing the Syrian government entered the territory. “For three months, we were displaced,” he says. “Our town was taken over. People were killed. We had no choice but to escape to a nearby city.”

Eventually, they returned home. But, for Taniel, everything had changed. With the crisis only getting worse, he could stay and deal with the destruction or look outside of Syria for a better future.

With the support of his parents and sponsorship assistance from a family friend in Toronto, Taniel (along with his older brother) left—escaping to Lebanon just two days after he completed his final university exam. “It all happened so quickly,” he recalls. “I didn’t even get the chance to say a proper goodbye.”

Despite arriving in Canada with an education in IT, Taniel struggled to find work—a crucial step to beginning a new life. To make ends meet, he worked as a labourer, greatly relying on his brother for financial help. He had the drive, but was in desperate need of the right career opportunity.

That’s when Taniel heard about United Way’s Career Navigator, an education-to-employment program that helps youth facing barriers find meaningful jobs and increased economic stability. Through industry-recognized training, paid internships and social supports, young people can better secure the credentials and experience needed for in-demand jobs.

For Taniel, it was a taste of familiarity: it meant putting to use and building on the skills he had acquired in Syria. It was also a taste of success. Now a graduate of the program, Taniel has a paid placement with Accenture, working full-time as a software engineering associate. “Joining the Career Navigator program was a life-changing decision,” he says. “It’s been a bridge to opportunities I didn’t think were possible.”

Opportunities that are only possible because of generous gifts like yours.

Syria will always bring Taniel memories of home. But, now, his future belongs in Canada. “This country has done so much for me,” he says. “And I want to show my gratitude by paying it forward and being an active member of society.”