Former CHC tenant hopes new book offers support to others
Calgary Housing Company manages housing for approximately 10,000 households, providing a home to about 25,000 Calgarians. Many of our tenants offer inspiring stories, overcoming challenges or obstacles to build better lives for themselves and their families. Their stories are profiled on www.calgaryhousingcompany.org to celebrate the positive impact these individuals have in our community.
Former Calgary Housing Company (CHC) tenant Akeir M.J. hopes writing a book about her life and experiences inspires other women who have been through something similar.
In 2016, Akeir’s fourth child was born prematurely. The baby spent the first 69 days of his life in the neonatal intensive care unit of the South Health Campus in Calgary. Today he is a healthy and active infant, but Akeir’s experience with her son George brought back a flood of painful memories and emotions.
Akeir says George’s birth made her relive experiences from 2010, when her daughter was born with a rare bone disorder. Expected to live just days, her daughter lived three months and three days. It was a difficult time and Akeir says going through something similar six years later was very hard.
“It meant I had to relive everything. I was struggling with anxiety and depression and needed to something to help me cope,” says Akeir. “I actually had nurses from 2010 recognize me years later and a social worker thought it might help me to write about my feelings and experiences,” she says. “I started writing and before I knew it I was pouring my heart out.”
“I learned a lot about myself through the process of writing and I thought my experiences could help others. So I made it into a book,” she says.
Akier wrote 69 Days In The NICU while George was recovering. She self-published it through Amazon and started a Facebook page to continue the conversation with others touched by her story. The book retails for $20 with a portion of the proceeds donated to Calgary hospitals to provide gift cards for families, to cover small expenses like gas or parking.
“I hope it helps other mothers. For me, coming and going from the hospital every day was particularly hard. I think about someone else in that position and want to do what I can to help.”
She’s done media interviews online and says she was recently recognized at a local mall by someone who watched an interview and was moved by her story.
Akier emigrated from South Sudan in October 2000. After a few years, she settled in Calgary spending three years renting from CHC while creating a new life for herself and her family.
“It was a new culture, with really cold winter weather and a whole different experience. I am thankful for my time with CHC because it enabled me to go to school while we had little or sometimes no income. It helped my family and I get used to life in Canada.”
Today Akier works in Calgary as a youth counsellor. She and her husband are raising four children in a home of their own.
“I want to give back to the community, especially to women who are dealing with something difficult. I want them to know what I did to get through the difficult times.”