(2/2) When we first arrived in Australia, no one in the neighbourhood came to see us, which really shocked us. In Africa, when you are a new person, the neighbours always come and welcome you and bring you some food or drink. And although there was plenty of food to buy at the supermarket, we didn’t recognise any of it except rice and bread. So we bought things without knowing how to cook them, or even how to eat them! We were really like fish out of water at that time.

But eventually things got better. I started an organisation here for the Congolese community, and became a point of contact between them and all the service providers. Next, I got a job with the Brisbane City Council in a community job program. Through that job, I developed my self-esteem and my potential and one day, at the end of the program, they asked me to be a guest speaker on behalf of refugees. Soon after that, I received a call from the principal of Milperra High School, who had also been one of the guest speakers. And they offered me a job as a Teacher aide!

Later, I contacted the Kenmore Baptist church, and through them I planted a new church here. In Africa, the church is related to our culture, and music and dance is our way of expression – we dance at weddings, we dance at funerals. So if you come to our church, be prepared to dance!

I have just written my biography, to show people who have been through the same situation as me that because I made it, they can make it too. I feel there’s nothing that’s impossible. We can live beyond crisis. Crisis gives you an opportunity to use your potential, to use your ability, to overcome that crisis.

Now I am a resettled person, not a refugee. To be a refugee is just a passage, just a transition, but it’s not the end. You can use what you have to recreate your situation.

That’s what I’m doing, and that’s the message I want to give to others.

Bengankuna Constantin (Costa)
The Congo (DRC)
Arrived 2004

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