Challenging circumstances can create vulnerability, and fundamentally, this forces all people to reshape a life that was once taken for granted.

20 June 2019

Growing up in South Sudan during the Civil War was far from peaceful.

The South Sudanese Civil War forced Mal to move to North Sudan, he lived there for seven years. During that time, he worked during the day and went to school at night. After many years, Mal was forcefully recruited to the Northern Sudanese Army. To avoid fighting against his own people, he moved his family to Egypt.

Years later, Mal settled in Australia. He found himself exposed to a new culture and society that was seemingly strange, complex and overwhelming. Wanting to pursue an education, he decided there were more opportunities in a smaller town.

In 2001, he moved to Toowoomba where he attended high school for grades 11 and 12. He was actively involved with St Anthony’s Catholic Church with his family during that time. This period of Mal’s life was difficult and at times required a great deal of constant adjustment and resilience, it was difficult not being able to speak the language.

Mal found jobs over the school holidays, working on farms to help support his family. He continued to be involved with the church where he would regularly volunteer with St Vincent de Paul’s to assist with migrants and refugees struggling in their re-settlement.

Committed to making a better life.

After successfully graduating from high school, Mal gained a role at Mission Australia where he continued helping culturally and linguistically diverse members of the community like himself and other. His commitments and achievements were recognised when he was awarded Silver and Gold medals for the pride of Australia awards in 2012.

For many years Mal continued his passion for volunteering through the church and soon connected with CatholicCare Social Services. CatholicCare runs many programs and services for clients with CALD backgrounds. Mal became a volunteer with TRAMS (Toowoomba Refugee and Migrant Support). He frequently volunteered his services as a translator for migrants struggling with the settlement process. He would assist them with services and appointments with financial institutions, accommodation requirements, enrolling children into the education system and general daily living. Mal understands the importance of finding independence and social connectedness for TRAMS clients.

Helping smooth the way for others.

Mal understands firsthand the trauma that migrants face with immigration. Volunteering with TRAMS assisted Mal with practicing English through his interpreting role and it has played a vital part in Mal’s immediate family in supporting his wife and children with weekly English lessons. As a direct result of the support provided by CatholicCare for Mal and his family, he discovered a sense of purpose and the opportunity to participate in a program that empowered others to rise to the same challenges of life.

A proud member of the CatholicCare team.

Mal’s position at CatholicCare was for a project that was funded by the Perpetual IMPACT Philanthropy Program and worked in conjunction with Condamine Alliance and The Mulberry Project. Mal worked on this project advising what impacts farming has on the communities and how this knowledge could be used for members of CALD backgrounds. Shortly after the project was completed, and CatholicCare witnessing Mal’s dedication to his work, he was offered a permanent role at CatholicCare as a Future Family worker where he remains employed today. In his current role, he continues to advocate for other CALD families and for the benefits of CatholicCare’s programs such as mediation, counselling, conflict and communication programs as well as facilitating family dispute resolutions.

Fully immersed in Australian culture, Toowoomba is now Mal’s home.

Today, Mal sees himself as an Australian with a rich cultural heritage handed down from his family in South Sudan. He is thankful to CatholicCare to be given the opportunities he has had thus far and acknowledges the role that TRAMS program has played in his life. Through TRAMS Mal said that he has gained an education, employment and has made valuable friendships. More importantly Mal and his family have made Toowoomba home.

Find out more about TRAMS

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