Agnes happy to call Australia home

Agnes at Catholic Care’s All Saints of Africa Community Drop-in Centre and Garden at Blacktown

This National Refugee Week, 19 to 25 June, we give thanks for our generous supporters who have helped changed the lives of refugees and asylum seekers like Agnes, for the better.

After fleeing war-torn South Sudan with her young children in 2002, Agnes says Australia has given her a second chance at life.

“We are very lucky and happy to be here,” she said. Agnes was in her early 20s when she, and her late husband, fled their home country.

“Life in South Sudan was so hard,” she said. “It was very awful – you can die anytime, gun shots everywhere, you can hear it all the time. My husband and I were looking for a better life for our family.”

Before leaving South Sudan, Agnes was living with her husband’s family, sharing a one-room house with 21 members of the family, with no water, and just one meal a day.

Agnes and her husband fled across the border to Uganda, where they lived for eight years, planning their migration to Australia. Just two months before they were due to leave for Australia, her husband died.  On her own with three children under 10, Agnes carried on the couple’s dream and came to Australia.

“My husband was gone but I was determined to give my young family a better life, to give them an

education,” she said. “It was such a relief to arrive here, and we were made to feel very welcome by everyone and settled very quickly.”

Agnes attributes much of her ease of life in Australia to the people she met through her local Catholic church and the support she has received from Catholic Care.

“I was first introduced to Catholic Care through a friend who started growing vegetables in the community garden,” Agnes said. “I asked if I could have a space too and we grow Sudanese greens and corn, among other things.”

Agnes is also very grateful for the support she receives from the team at Catholic Care’s All Saints of Africa Community Drop-In Centre in Blacktown.

“They helped my children with their homework if I wasn’t able to, and they connected me to a

financial counsellor, among other things. They have been wonderful to us.”

Now a mother of four, Agnes has forged a career as a nurses’ aid in a residential aged care facility. She is now studying through the University of Tasmania to become a registered nurse. At the same time, three of her children have finished Year 12 and one is also studying at university to become an ambulance officer.

The family has so much to look forward to.

Pope Francis highlighted the importance of inclusiveness and fraternity in his 2021 Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees and urged us to work ‘Towards an ever wider “we”’. Our Holy Father stressed that an ever wider “we” will help renew the human family, build a future of justice and peace, and ensure that no one is left behind.

“We are all in the same boat and called to work together so that there will be no more walls that separate us, no longer others, but only a single “we”, encompassing all of humanity.

“In encountering the diversity of foreigners, migrants and refugees, and in the intercultural

dialogue that can emerge from this encounter, we have an opportunity to grow as Church and

to enrich one another.”

Because of generous supporters like you, Catholic Care can accompany and assist the most vulnerable and disadvantaged migrants and refugees; and give them renewed hope and a brighter future.

Thank you for your compassion and for being a good Samaritan to our neighbours in need. As people of goodwill, we can build a better Australia and a better world for all. May your endeavours be brought to fulfillment in accordance with God’s vision of the fullness of life for all humanity.

Please pray for the generosity of heart that Pope Francis calls for as we seek the wider “we”.

“Bless each act of welcome and outreach that draws those in exile into the ‘we’ of community and of the Church, so that our earth may truly become what you yourself created it to be: the common home of all our brothers and sisters. Amen.”

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