A new start and a promise to her parents to do the uncommon

June 2021

When Komal Vijah Shah discovered she’d been accepted into the Health Informatics program at Confederation College here in Thunder Bay, she packed all her belongings, said good-bye to her mother and uncle, Navin, and faster than a person can say, “So long, India” she flew to Canada.

“I’ve always believed that an opportunity delayed is an opportunity lost,” Komal says. “It was my father’s dream that I start a new life in a foreign country where I would have more opportunities, so I left the day after I received the email.”

Back in India, her mother sold their house and moved into a smaller apartment and Komal found a part time job in Thunder Bay so they could pay the tuition fees. It was a tough go but Komal persevered.

As an only child Komal felt a strong obligation to fulfill this dream. Her father had passed away when she was a teen and she finds her inspiration in his strength and dedication to his family.

“He is my role model and the reason I push myself to do more and more each day.”

While in India, Komal graduated from Lalbhai Dalpatbhai College with a Bachelor’s in Bio-Medical Engineering and worked several jobs to pay for her tuition. During her spare time, she read and read and read. “A colleague of mine told me to read as much as possible and utilize my time correctly so I read books like the Power of Your Subconscious Mind, the Autobiography of Gandhi, and Zero to One, books that encouraged me to become a better person.” She also wrote and self published two books: Assist Thou, in English and Aapno Mitra, in her native language, Gujarati.

Now in Thunder Bay, Komal has several goals. She wants to improve her English and learn how to speak with a Canadian accent. “In India I learned English from an Asian teacher so my accent is sometimes difficult to understand.” She also wants to continue her education in Healthcare and earn enough to pay her college fees so she doesn’t have to depend on her mother’s help. This fall she’ll move onto the next program, Leadership in Healthcare and Profession. When her education is complete, she hopes to find a full time job in health administration.

Komal has many people to thank for helping her make it this far in her journey, including Lindsey Holmstrom who has helped her since the very beginning. “Without her, I would have not been able to come this far or continue on my path. I thank her immensely.”

Komal would love to stay in Thunder Bay. “The people here are so beautiful and kind. They are patient with me as I learn to speak English and adapt to this new culture.” This seems to be especially true when Komal began working at the deli department at Safeway. Komal was not only challenged in learning English but she had to learn the different kinds of meat. “I follow Jainism, the philosophy of live and let live, so I don’t eat meat. When I came to Canada, I didn’t even know what chicken looked like!”

As Komal puts it quite nicely, “India is my mother country, but Thunder Bay has adopted me as her own child.” She has met many wonderful people and enjoyed visits to the Conservatory, Mission Island, the International Friendship Garden, Marina Park, and much more.

“My future plans are to see the world, and help the needy. I have a tremendous love for humanity. My mother and father did so much for me and they remind me of my past and my promise to do the uncommon. I want to make my family proud.”

There’s no doubt that Komal is making her family proud. Her uncle continually reminds her that she is like a beautiful lotus flower that pushes its way through the dirt and mud, to bloom and show everyone its beauty.

As the city with a giant heart, we’re proud of Komal too. She’s an inspiration to us all.

Donna White is an accomplished author and Jubilee Medal winner for her volunteer work with World Vision. Visit her website at www.DonnaWhiteBooks.com

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