FAITH, as the Bible says, can move mountains and this is the living testimony of successful entrepreneur widow Edith Ragadio-Strange, a native of Laguna, who once worked as a “yaya” or nanny for a family in Redvers town in Saskatchewan province in Canada, then later moved to Brandon in Manitoba where she worked for Maple Leaf Foods for ten years cutting meat.
“I used to have five jobs when I was single. I used to clean buildings. I was a nanny and my boss asked me to work at the bakeries, something like that in Redvers. And then after that, when I moved to Brandon, I met my husband and worked in different places like McDonalds, Maple Leaf, and waitressing. Name it. Any kind of job, I worked all those,” Edith recalled in her interview with The Philippine Reporter, a Filipino-Canadian newspaper based in Toronto, Ontario.
On top of all that, Edith said she still made time to teach kids Bible study sessions at her church.
Before Edith ventured to the “Great White North” of Canada, Edith worked in Singapore as a nanny for four years. She decided to immigrate to Canada through the Caregiver Program in 1991.
When Edith married Garry Strange, they were “blessed” to have two sons, Tim and Tom, after whom Tim Tom Asian Grocery was named.
Call it a blessing in disguise, when Edith wanted to leave her job because she was being bullied in the workplace.
It was after making several trips to Winnipeg in Garry’s truck to stock up on Filipino products for their friends in Brandon that Edith and Garry conceived the idea of putting up a Filipino or an Asian grocery business.
They opened their first store at 541 8th Street in Brandon in 2009. However, Garry died in a vehicular accident in February 2011, when his car rolled over on the icy road close to their home in the small town of Killarney, Manitoba.
Before Garry’s untimely demise, he and Edith had planned to open a branch in the small town of Neepawa at the request of their Filipino customers in Neepawa.
There was really a great demand because there were no Filipino stores in Neepawa and their customers had to drive 76.4 km to Brandon to buy the products they wanted.
Amid her grief over Garry’s sudden departure, Edith shouldered on.
“I still had to continue whatever he left behind that he didn’t do. So I kept dreaming that he said ‘you have to do it’. He kept telling me ‘You have to do my store in Neepawa. You know, you have to continue on. Even the Filipinos, kept telling me ‘you have to continue what your husband wants. You have to put one for us here in Neepawa’. So okay, I said to this Filipino community to help me find a place to put it up there and you have to support this store because this is yours,” Edith said.
Apparently, the “Bayanihan” spirit of the Filipino community helped her find a storefront and they opened Tim Tom Asian Grocery at 402 Mountain Avenue in Neepawa in July 2011.
Armed with her strong faith in God, Edith single-handedly raised her sons, Tim, who is now 21 years old and working in their family store, and Tom, 18, who is graduating from 12th grade this summer and planning to go to a university.
“As a single mom, I raised them well,” Edith said with gladness.
“I know that God is with me. He’s there to help me. All the work that I’ve been doing, I know that He’s giving me a lot of strength, you know, like, he’s my hero. He’s the one doing all this for me, helping me.” Edith said.
And with her determination, she was able to create a thriving business with the support of the Filipino community which enabled her to help her family back in Laguna.
Aside from the Tim Tom Asian grocery stores she now owns in Manitoba, she also opened a Filipino restaurant in Neepawa which closed in 2015 costing her $70,000.
But Edith firmly holds on to her faith.
“God has been very nice to me. He gave me back all the money that I lost anyway. So my business is growing and growing because of the pandemic. My sales tripled during the pandemic,” Edith revealed.
She said her sons and trusted employees are now working in the stores so she can take time to relax and work from home.
Today, Edith owns a farm and other real estates along with running her own Asian grocery store in Neepawa town and in the city of Brandon, all in Manitoba.
Edith must have a date with destiny in Canada as her successful life story validates that with unswerving faith, nothing is impossible.