Living in her home country, Annie had dreams of becoming a leader of a not-for-profit organisation and had graduated from a course in English African literature and Culture and a Diploma in Business studies. Her dreams came to a halt when Annie and her two children were forced to flee their home in the Democratic Republic of Congo due to safety fears and ongoing political issues in the country.
"We fled the border into Cameroon where there were no refugee camps, but we had to find safety. Life was very hard for us, especially as a single mother," Annie said.
"I applied for an Australian humanitarian visa while in Cameroon. While waiting for the assessment of our visas, I assisted other women to apply for humanitarian visas. Many of these women had their visas granted before me and I was scared we would not receive visas ourselves".
"Then finally we received the good news we had been hoping for, our visas had been granted. We arrived and settled in Darwin in 2008; my daughter was 12 and my son eight at the time".
"Arriving in Darwin was a miracle. We were so happy to be selected among many refugees who had been forced to flee their homes. We had lost everything and I was excited to start building a new safe life for us filled with hope".
"My greatest memory of arriving in Australia was using an ATM for the first time as we didn’t have access to banking in Cameroon."
"Once we were settled, I commenced studying again so I could begin working and rebuilding our lives. I attained a Diploma in Business Administration and began working full-time at Melaleuca Refugee Centre, a service offering intensive support to newly arrived humanitarian entrants".
"Now, in 2017 I work as a Community Development Program Family Support Worker within the same organisation. The role involves supporting people of culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) migrant and refugee backgrounds to settle into their new lives in Australia".
"I work with newly arrived refugees and migrants to explore cultural differences between Australia and their country of origin and exchange ideas about dealing with Australian systems, with a focus on family relationships, and parenting".
"It is very rewarding work. My personal experience surviving everything I went through makes me an understanding and compassionate support worker and give them hope when working through their traumatic issues. I get to reassure others they are safe here and they can work towards achieving their dreams".
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