When Agata Wroblewski married more than 20 years ago, she expected to stay with her husband for life. But things turned out differently.
In March 2009, Agata arrived at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport with only a suitcase full of court documents, a change of clothes and $81.
“My entire world had collapsed,” she says.
A World in Ruin
Originally from Poland, Agata, her husband and six-year-old daughter immigrated to London, Ont., in 1993. They settled in quickly. “My husband taught engineering at the University of Western Ontario and I studied at Fanshawe College to become certified in interior design,” says the 45-year-old. “We were a normal, hard-working, Christian family.”
After several years at the university, Agata’s husband secured employment in the automotive industry. In 2006, he was offered a high-profile career opportunity as the chief of his company’s European engineering department, along with a significant salary increase. “It was a fantastic opportunity for us to live in the United Kingdom and travel throughout Europe,” says Agata.
With their future seemingly bright, Agata resigned from her interior decorating job, rented out their home in Canada and moved the family to England.
Three years in England flashed by as the Wroblewskis built memories, shared experiences and dreamt of their future. Then one day, in an instant, Agata’s world turned to ruin.
“I’m having an affair,” Agata’s husband announced. “I’m in love with our best friend’s daughter. Our marriage is done and, to me, you simply don’t exist.”
From London, England, to London, Ontario
Her husband’s bombshell left Agata homeless, friendless and penniless. He refused to provide any financial assistance or give her access to their house in Canada, and her lawyer’s repeated attempts to receive aid from his company were ignored.
Then, to add to her already desperate situation, Agata started growing weak and tired. She attributed it to
her struggles but when excessive sweating and tremors started to occur, she sought medical attention. The
doctor diagnosed a hyperactive thyroid, a result of immense stress, which would later develop into cancer.
“Because my social status had changed, my ‘friends’ abandoned me,” continues Agata. “I was sick and alone.” Even her pleas to local churches in England were turned down.
“I couldn’t find any support,” she continues. “I kept asking God, ‘Why?’ I had always been a faithful wife, mother and friend.”
Devastated and with no one to turn to, Agata chose to return to Canada where she had taken up citizenship. Her former employer offered to pay for her plane fare, but she had to leave her daughter, who stayed in England to work and study.
When she’d lived in London, Ont., Agata had often read about The Salvation Army and their services, so she wrote to the Army’s Centre of Hope explaining her need for temporary shelter. The centre’s director, Major Neil Lewis, immediately responded to say that their doors were open and they had a bed for her.
“What little money I had paid for a bus ticket from the airport in Toronto to London, where I went directly to The Salvation Army,” says Agata. “There was no question they were there to help. I felt blessed.”
Agata soon found out that her husband, his girlfriend and their new child came to Canada shortly before she did, and her lawyers appeared at his office demanding financial aid and permission for her to enter the house. Within days, her husband quit his job, closed all his accounts and fled Canada.
Agata continuously fought for financial support and a court order to gain access to her home. By law she was not allowed to enter her home without her husband’s approval, and he refused to give it to her.
To make matters worse, radiation treatments for her cancer resulted in nausea, vomiting and fatigue, and Agata was unable to work.
My God, I am alone, without family, despaired Agata. How will I make it?
Fortunately, when her insurance didn’t cover her needed medication, The Salvation Army assisted with the costs.
“Their help was unconditional and overwhelming,” she states.
Agata and her lawyers refused to give up and, after 162 days at The Salvation Army shelter, she moved home, court order in hand. She had $60 in her pocket. Once again, The Salvation Army provided—with blankets, pillows, dishes, food, some furniture—everything to start over. This ongoing support restored her faith in humanity.
Since then, Agata has completed radiation, reunited with her daughter, who lives with her, and found employment. Now divorced, she is also a motivational speaker and volunteers at the centre.
“When you fall into poverty, everything looks different,” says Agata. “Through the Army’s compassion and practical assistance I have a newfound joy, self-worth and confidence in myself. Life is finally getting back to normal.”