Stand for a moment and listen to the voices. The voices of negativity, of blame, of complacency, of hopelessness. Watch wanton vandalism. Look at 42 years of communism which seem so deepseated in your country’s veins that freedom doesn’t seem to take hold.

Stand a moment and look at your toddler children. Wonder what is ahead for them. And look at yourself, with your energy, your commitment, your enthusiasm, your ideas. And wonder if there could be more.

Try to put your lips around English words with their tricky inconsistent rules... rough, ruff, through, true, bed, bead, reed... you figure it out!

In some small way you’re embracing the reality of two of Barrie’s newest entrepreneurs. Petra and Dalimor Gajdos (pronounced Guy-Dos).

This couple, aged 27 and 30 respectively, are parents to a 9 and a 6 year old. They chose Canada. So desperate were they to leave the Czech Republic (part of three generations of Communist Bloc and freed for 12 years) that they sold their business, put their funds into getting to Canada, and were accepted on an entrepreneurial visa and given access in August, 2002.

An entrepreneurial visa? If you’re not a professional--doctor, lawyer, professor etc.) or an employee of someone else, then risking your money and yourself in an entrepreneurial visa is the other way to immigrate to Canada.

And so they arrived. Dalimor instantly found work in his field of expertise, auto body. He had owned his own shop as well as a restaurant in his old country and he and Petra worked together in their business, supporting eight employees.

Petra has started their entrepreneurial effort, European Cleaning. Residential quotes and contracts, commercial / industrial / institutional quotes and contracts are what this young company is after. She has a few of both kinds of contracts and is juggling cultural adjustment, children’s education, house fixing up, and entrepreneurial training as well as learning English... all on the hope that her business will earn them their way to freedom.

Petra cleans during the day, mostly residential contracts. Then after supper, she and Dalimor head out to do a commercial contract. He then goes home to bed down the kids and finish the work around home while Petra continues to her next cleaning contract, a dental office.

This is a couple with years of experience in hard work. I asked them if they were rich in Czech Republic? Or were they poor? Their answer: We weren’t poor; we weren’t rich. We were okay. We were making more money than we are in Canada. But because I was a business owner and not an employee, the only way we could immigrate was if we agreed to start a business and employ at least one Canadian within two years.”

And even though the money was better, why come to Canada?

“After 40 yuears of communism, the economy is bad. Bad. People haven’t changed their minds or their behaviours. They are negative, uninspired and unmotivated. I didn’t want that, for us or for our kids. We worked and saved and saved and saved. We sold our business and paid our fees to get our start.”

For Petra and Dalimor, European Cleaning will provide not only a future for their Canadian employees, it will earn them a new life in a country where optimism flourishes, and opportunity is matched by initiative. “We love Canada,” says Petra. “It is free. It is free. I love this country. I know if I work hard I’ll do well.”

Petra pays for and attends classes to learn more about operating her business. She makes business contacts and referrals and friends among her entrepreneur peers. She watches her business grow, as do the others, but she has an incredible pressure that her colleagues are free from. In two and a half months, her business must be at the point where an employee is necessary.

Her two-year entrepreneurial visa is up in July. This July. Her option is for the family to return to Czech Republic.

It’s highly likely that this energetic, committed young woman and her husband will be rewarded for their courage and initiative. And lucky is the person who becomes her first employee.

What a wonderful addition to this country! And what a boon to Barrie!

Thanks, Petra. Thanks, Dalimor.

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