‘Life Guardian & A Gift of Trust’
A Gift of Trust
by Mercy Connect Volunteer, Christine
In early 2015 I was introduced to Rodiayh, described as withdrawn and in need of friendship and support. Shyly she responded to my gentle enquiries and when asked to write just an easy description of a good memory from her life in Yemen, she offered up a small heart wrenching account of her life before arriving in Australia.
Those first writings of Rodiayh’s gave me a glimpse into a gift she has for metaphoric language just waiting to be encouraged and fanned into life. We quickly developed an easy rapport and I could see her eyes light up as we met in the quiet safety of the library at recess each Thursday.
After a few months I dropped by her home to meet Rodiayh’s mum and some of the children her mum cared for with the Family Day Care program. By the time Year 11 came around I was also timetabled into one of Rodiayh’s classes assisting her and other students. Towards the end of our first year, with her mum’s permission, I took Rodiayh on her first trip to the theatre. Bankstown Youth Development Service presented “The Way, when you’re lost in the world”, a rather relevant title and a performance we both enjoyed.
Enjoying English especially under her warm and skilful classroom teacher, Rodiayh went on to enter several English competitions and continued to surprise. With her limited educational experience before Bankstown Secondary College, the honesty and imaginative framing of her world gained her a highly commended and other recognition. Whilst still in year 11 Rodiayh visited my place and was taken with the mosaic work that is a feature of my back garden.
Over the following six months I taught her the basics of making and decorating her own ceramic tiles. These became a feature of her wood project, a hall table which she finished with a mosaic of scattered autumn leaves. It was rather a lovely testament to my influences and yet very much Rodiayh’s own vision.
Early in year 12 Rodiayh had the setback of helping her mother after the latter had a car accident. She missed a lot of school time as she struggled to manage the children usually in her mum’s care. It was a hard struggle to complete her assessment tasks and take such a major role at home however she did so with quiet acceptance and determination. Her strength of character and warmth, the firm mothering she has demonstrated with the children, her creativity for book design in Early Childhood studies, her writing and ceramic mosaics, loyalty to friends and more are amongst the many reasons why I love this young woman.
It is now more than two years since Rodiayh left school, and despite the visa limbo the family still dwell in, our friendship continues to grow. I am so grateful to have been a part of the Mercy Connect programme and have been able to share my skills and my heart with Rodiayh especially, but also with many other exceptional young refugee students.
To be able to offer the practical supports that we fortunate retired teachers easily take for granted is a privilege that cannot be underestimated.
To donate hit the ‘Donate Now’ button below.
Rodiayh’s Story in Her Own Words…
“My ancestors recounted they came to Somalia in boats. They were the minority group and were not recognized as Somali residents or Somali citizens. My father and mother grew up in this fertile land as a farmer. Cultivating the land was the only job for our people.
When the war broke out in Somalia, the minority tribes were the weak and powerless group. Their men were killed, their women were captured, and their children were raped or displaced. What could these tribes do other than to leave the homeland, loaded with the scars of war not erased by time?
My parents were among the displaced who fled by boat to Yemen. My parents left to Yemen with three children: two were their children and the third one was my cousin whose father was killed and whose mother was captured. And so, my parents were the only family in his life.
It was here in Sana in Yemen that I was born in 1995. And then I had another 2 brothers younger than me so all of us are 6 kids and my parents now living in Yemen.
I love Yemen a lot and I loved my neighbours. I love my childhood even though it was really hard. My Dad went back to Somalia because his mother was sick. Our life become harder without him. I had to leave school and start work with my mum in a restaurant. Life was getting much harder and then the war started there so we left for Indonesia. For a while, we live in Jakarta where we cannot work or study. It was like our minds were in a prison: we were bound and could not grow and think. We lived in Indonesia for three years, hoping to reach a new city to start the first pages of our new life.
So, we decided as a family unit to travel by boat to Australia: like our grandparents before us. I came to Sydney when I was 18 years old and I went to study in Bankstown senior college.
It was hard for me because I hadn’t studied for so long, and the language was also hard. I couldn’t make friends because most of my life since I was child, my life was not always stable. I did not know how to make friends. And I wasn’t coming to school on time or everyday – even though I loved to be educated.
I used to love writing stories, and there was a teacher at college who loved my writing, so she suggested to me that she would bring someone who can help me in my study and join me in coming to school.
This is where I met Ms Chris from Mercy Connect. Ms Chris was the one who restored in me hope and confidence in what I write. She was to me like a sister, a closest friend and she still is.
Because she supported me, I began to love school and I could also make friendships and those friends stayed with me until my current day – all because of Ms Chris. Because of her help, I came First in Class in English study and exploring early childhood. I won first in story Competition in Years 10, 11, 12.
With Ms Chris helping me, I had the best three years of school that will not be erased from my memory for the rest of my life. She helped me in my Graduation Project. It was lovely work I did with her and now even though I have finished school, she is still with me as my ‘life guardian’. She guarantees my practical and emotional life. She is always here next me when I need her.
I love her and want to be Australian like her. At the end, I want say Australia is the land I feel strongly I belong to it. And it’s a land of people who have big hearts, humanity and love for others. I hope to God that every refugee coming to Australia will find a loving person like Ms Chris.”
To donate or speak to our Donor Development Manager, please call Kingsley Edwards on 02 9564 1911 or hit the ‘Donate Now’ button below.