(Part 2 of 2) Before I came to Brisbane, I was a bit worried about how I would go, as I didn’t have much education, and I thought that maybe because I was black, I would face some discrimination. I had the idea I would go and work on a farm, and just try to give my child the best education I could. But of course that expectation changed from the moment I arrived at the airport, because a young, white woman called my name, and the smile and the welcome she gave me immediately created a connection. Then, I was taken to my accommodation, which was fully furnished, the fridge full of food, and I said, ‘Wow, this is like heaven to me.’ As a result, I told myself I had to learn as soon as I could how to fit into society and do good things.
First, I worked really hard to learn English, then I started high school at year 11, followed by vocational training and work at Brigadoon Nursing Home. I also participated in a lot of community activates with the Red Cross and other refugee and migrant services. Eventually, I founded a number of community organisations, including the Eritrean Community Association, and this not-for-profit social enterprise – Mu’ooz restaurant. We provide opportunities for disadvantaged, illiterate African women by giving them on the job training – to give them skills and build their confidence, to break down their cultural and language barriers, and also to remove their isolation and create connections. More than 114 women have been through the program in the last 8 years, and 97% of them are working in the mainstream now.
My husband and I eventually separated because we were apart for so long, but I remarried, and my husband Michael and I have 2 daughters, who are 15 and 16. And my eldest daughter is 34 now – she completed her degree and is a mother of three herself.
I feel lucky to live in this beautiful and peaceful country and I feel full of opportunity. I really want to contribute and to pay back, and above all I want to highlight what’s good about refugees.
We have a lot of good, which people need to know about.
If you live in Brisbane, why not support an amazing cause and at the same time eat some delicious Eritrean food at Mu’ooz in the West End. http://www.muooz.com.au
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