“Australia is my home now, not Sudan. Everything is normal here. People don’t have guns pointing at you and your family. I feel safe,”
Amina is a refugee from Sudan who escaped persecution to come to Australia with her husband and children. After a very difficult decade for the family, in 2000 Amina’s husband explained to his family that they must escape from their country. They could all see the violence was worsening. Amina sighed and quietly told me: ‘you can’t live like that.’
“Our family needed to be safe and away from all the fighting. We were locked in our home a lot of the time. Villages, and even people, were being set on fire around us. My husband travelled ahead of us to secure somewhere safe in neighbouring Egypt. I was glad to get out. I was scared of the violence, but I was also scared of what the future would hold for my family.”
Everyone settled in Egypt as best they could and seven months after fleeing the horrors of Darfur and claiming refugee status through the UNHCR the family were accepted as refugees by Australia for re-settlement.
“I didn’t know what to expect. This country called Australia seemed so far away and we were leaving my mother, father, brother, and other family behind. When we moved into our first rented place in Perth, we had nothing. No furniture – nothing. I couldn’t imagine how we were going to manage in this strange country as I spoke no English. I persevered and gradually I began to feel better. Australia was normal and safe. There was nobody with a gun.”
She made an effort to become involved in new things and joined the language classes and other activities at the Edmund Rice Centre WA. “It opened my eyes to how life could be. Everyone was so friendly. No-one was judgmental and it didn’t matter what country you came from, or what your religion was everyone was treated equally. It was like a big family. I knew I had found my place. I had a family again. I belonged.“
Amina was very motivated to learn and grew in confidence working in a variety of different jobs as well as alongside her husband in his business over many years. Recently she decided to seek another employment opportunity in aged care. She gathered all her study certificates, most of which are qualifications for working with the elderly, wrote a resume, was offered an interview and was ultimately successful, returning triumphantly to celebrate her new job with her friends and family.
Amina has seven children who are all doing well at school and university. Her husband owns and manages a retail outlet and they have called Australia home for nearly 20 years. I thought back to how Amina described herself when she arrived in Australia as a frightened, lonely woman who knew no-one. Over the years she has studied to become a successful businesswoman with a close knit, loving family.
“Of course, I am much happier now. We are settled and in our own home and we have become Australian citizens. I’m still tired with all the work, of course, but that’s ok most of the time.”