Fighting for the opportunity to get an education.

20 June 2019

Fighting for the opportunity to get an education.

A young girl growing up in South Sudan was very difficult. Aluel was 1 of 8 children to farming parents. Her parents farmed to feed her large family and sold whatever was leftover to make a little bit of money to buy supplies to plant the next crop. There was never enough food to eat and the likelihood of being married while she was still a child herself was a high possibility, as a lot of Sudanese families rely on dowries to survive.

While the military and the rebels were fighting for control of South Sudan, each day, children like Aluel would fight to get the opportunity to get an education. Aluel’s father was not supportive of her having an education, however her mother and older brother were encouraging.

At the age of 14 Aluel was given permission to attend school where she stayed until the age of 17. By then, as a South Sudanese way of life and culture, her parents had arranged her marriage. In South Sudan, marriage is considered a social institution involving families and Aluel’s role as a woman was clearly defined.

The process to live a life in Australia was lengthy and challenging.

Aluel’s husband lived in Australia at the time and returned to South Sudan to get married. Aluel was aged 19. Shortly after her marriage, Aluel moved to Kenya and lived with family friends for 14 months as her husband returned to Australia to process paperwork for her to be with him. Suddenly Aluel discovered she was pregnant with her first child. Her first born would be born in Kenya and with the support of her husband and family friends. She remained in Kenya until 2013, when she was 24 she was granted a spousal visa and migrated to Australia to be with her husband.

The challenges of her new life tested her strength and endurance.

Facing many settlement challenges such as language, skills and support; let alone the social disconnection of her new country, Aluel was left feeling overwhelmed and very alone. She would often cry during the evenings as she missed her family back home. Aluel’s husband was very concerned. Her husband was already connected to CatholicCare in Toowoomba through the TRAMS (Toowoomba Refugee and Migrant Support) program when he first re-located to Australia and felt that TRAMS could be of great importance to Aluel through her transition.

TRAMS assist people with the settlement process and includes several important support services such as English classes, “Making Toowoomba Home” sessions, Employment education, Casework, Group information sessions and Women and Youth support. TRAMS also offer a transport service to those in need of attending sessions who did not have access to a car.

Aluel sought connection and immersion.

TRAMS soon became an integral part of Aluel’s new life. Through her connection with CatholicCare, Aluel met other young women facing similar circumstances to herself. She learnt the Australian lifestyle thanks to the TRAMS volunteers and guest speakers offered by the program.

Making Toowoomba home.

TRAMS alerted Aluel to an employment opportunity including 6 months paid Traineeship for a Certificate I in Business. This opportunity was being offered by a local Community Based Organisation in Toowoomba for women facing challenges and barriers in their lives. As Aluel had not previously held a job in Australia, TRAMS was able to assist her with writing a resume and cover letter to apply for the role. Aluel applied and was successful in obtaining a position.

After completing her traineeship, she went onto a Certificate III in Meatworks at a local abattoir. Aluel, continued to stay in touch with TRAMS over the time and at the end of November 2017, a role was advertised to work within CatholicCare as a Future Family worker. Assisting other families and people, supporting other migrants, and understanding their struggles as she had faced several of the same issues was something Aluel felt strongly about. Aluel applied for the role at CatholicCare and was successful in gaining employment. Aluel is currently is working with CatholicCare today.

Giving back to her community through her work at CatholicCare.

Aluel’s goal is to work hard to give back to an organisation that has so generously supported her since migrating to Australia. She has said she will forever grateful to CatholicCare for changing both her life and the lives of her family members through its outstanding community services that they offer to people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, just like hers.

Find out about TRAMS

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