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A Dynamic Person Who Likes to Feel Useful

One of the biggest strengths of Northern Valleys Alternative Measures (MAVN) is the team that has been assembled by the alternative justice organization. Combining youth and experience, each of these people deserves to be known. In a series of articles, we will try to introduce them to you. This week, let’s start with the newcomer… who is not a newcomer! This is Betty Estiverne, from the LIVING TOGETHER service.

MAVN : Betty Estiverne, you are the new MAVN socio-community worker for the Rivière-du-Nord territory. However, everyone already knows you. How is this possible?

Betty : It’s simple, I’ve been doing this job since 2012. Until 2015, I was an employee of MAVN. At that time, responsibility for some social housing changed hands to OMH, which became my employer. Then, in the past few weeks, a new position opened up at MAVN, and I was asked to return. So, I changed employers again without really changing jobs!

MAVN : That’s original. And what does the work of a socio-community worker for social housing residents involve?

Betty : We establish a link with these people, to ensure that their needs are met and that they keep their autonomy. We listen to them, we guide them, we reassure them when necessary. If they have a problem, we accompany them so that they are able to find their own solutions.

MAVN : That sounds very rewarding. Is it something you have always wanted to do?

Betty : Not really. I originally wanted to be a doctor. But it didn’t work out, for all sorts of reasons. After I got my degree in the humanities, as well as a certificate in mental health, I got this job and I love it. I love accompanying and listening to people. We’re like doctors of the soul!

MAVN : And what are your strengths that help you do your job well?

Betty : It is not for me to say! On the other hand, I am often told that I am calm, and people find that reassuring. The example which comes to me is when someone has a problem which they find really urgent. Their stress level is high, almost panic. In a case like that, I try to put things in perspective. Yes, the problem is serious. Yes, it needs to be dealt with. But is it urgent? Not always. Just being aware of this calms them down.

MAVN : Conversely, are there things you like less about what you do?

Betty : That’s a trick question! Actually, yes. With the diversity of problems that people experience, I find that there are a lot of regulations to follow, a lot of organizations involved, a lot of people involved: the CISSS, the DPJ, the OMH, etc. That sometimes makes things quite complicated. I understand that it is necessary, but I often wish it were simpler.

MAVN : You just used the word diversity. As a Haiti native, is this an issue for you on a daily basis? Have you encountered racism?

Betty : Yes, of course, it is quite common. But I live with it well, it affects my two children more than me. From my perspective, I think it’s a question of ignorance; I don’t blame the people involved. As a society, we have to focus on education. In time, that’s how racism will disappear.

MAVN : You’ve been in Quebec for a long time, I believe. How are you finding life here?

Betty : I came to Canada and Quebec over 18 years ago. I feel good here, I like almost everything. Almost! There is an important cultural difference compared to where I come from. I don’t always have the same perception of problems as people here, because of my culture.

MAVN : And that causes problems for you?

Betty : No, not at all. On the contrary. It even helps me to understand how each person sees a given situation. On the other hand, when I think about what is happening in my home country, Haiti, I feel sad. Life is tough for the people there, and that worries me. It’s hard to feel helpless…

MAVN : The important thing is to make a difference where you can. I’m sure the social housing residents see what you’re doing for them.

Betty : Thank you, I do my best. I try to support people as best I can, while providing the best life for my children. That’s important to me.

MAVN : We are certainly glad to have you, Betty Estiverne!

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