My marriage unraveled when I was seven months pregnant. I think I had a nervous breakdown at that time. It’s hard for someone to go through a betrayal, but for a pregnant woman, it’s devastating.

That was the defining moment in my life which led me to who I am now, and it was definitely my motivation for coming to Australia as an international student, to give my daughter a better life. My aunt supported my daughter and I to come, and at first we stayed with my cousin. But after a year, my cousin had to go back to work, and there was nobody to help me look after my daughter anymore. As I couldn’t afford childcare, I had to send her back to the Philippines to stay with my mother. I miss her a lot.

In the Philippines, I was an office worker and had never done manual labour, but my first job in Sydney was in the fish market. Then I worked in a sushi shop, where the other staff were all Korean and I was the only Filipino. I didn’t know the first thing about making sushi and they didn’t speak English very well, so they were always shouting at me! Moving to another country teaches you a lot of stuff, like how to be brave and get out of your comfort zone. It was a really tough time, but it was also really humbling and it taught me a lot of things.

After I finished my Masters in Information Systems, a lot of doors were slammed on me professionally, and I was about to give up hope. I was always crying to my mom and telling her that I wanted to come home, but she just kept telling me to hang in there. Then finally I got this job working for a company owned by a Lebanese Australian. The owner is very kind. He told me he came to Australia when he was two years old, so he knows about the plight of immigrants. I’m so thankful for the opportunity.

I hope I can apply for my permanent residency soon so I can give my daughter a brighter future and we can finally be together.

Maria
Philippines
Arrived 2013

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