After fleeing war-ravaged Iraq, then enduring nine years in limbo in Jordan while seeking asylum, an Australian Christmas “miracle” awaited single father Yousif and his daughter Angelina.
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Yousif, now 35, and his 12-year-old daughter Angelina arrived on Christmas Eve in 2018 and were warmly welcomed into their Blue Mountains community, right from the moment they were picked up at Sydney airport by Faulconbridge residents Mark and Merran.
At last, they were secure in the knowledge that this was no fleeting visit – it was the start of their new life in their newly adoptive country, and they were here to stay.
Since then, they have been ushered into their new world with many helping hands and hearts. They have received assistance in finding their own home, a school, a job; they’ve been invited to play dates, afternoon teas and dinners; they’ve been ferried to appointments, sporting clubs and after-school activities, and helped with red tape involved in setting up life from scratch in a new land.
“As a refugee (asylum seeker in Jordan), you cannot work and you cannot study,” Yousif said. “You do nothing. You are living for an unknown future, just sitting there and waiting for a miracle to happen. I praise God that he brought me to the Blue Mountains.”
The “miracle” that followed their acceptance as refugees by Australia was all part of a major initiative known as ‘Refugee Welcome’ by CatholicCare Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains to make newcomers feel welcomed as loved members of the community.
Celia Vagg is the coordinator of CatholicCare’s Springwood Drop-In Centre, where Yousif and Angelina have been regular visitors.
“This is all about bringing them into a community at a personal level; inviting a refugee family to be supported by a church community rather than be reliant on other organisations,” Celia said.
“Seeing Yousif and Angelina and the community around them is just beautiful, and such a privilege to be part of.”
Refugee Week runs in Australia from Sunday 20 June to Saturday 26 June.
This article highlights a story from the “Diocesan Journey… Walking with Refugees and People Seeking Protection”. Learn more about this initiative and follow our 14-week campaign from Refugee Week to World Day of Migrants and Refugees.