In search of belonging – what community brings to people seeking asylum

By House of Welcome, 23 July 2021
Image: Belinda Fewings/Unsplash


House of Welcome (HoW) client Aidah* arrived in Australia with her husband and two children in 2019. Here, she reflects on her experiences of searching for safety and stability, and the role community played in establishing a new life.

What does safety mean to me? It means I feel safe without anyone being able to harm me.

Before we came to Leeton, our HoW caseworker Ruth and the HoW team introduced us to the Mayor and helped to arrange the move to Leeton. The Mayor is someone that has allowed us to trust him by welcoming us to the community.

When we arrived at Leeton, the Mayor assisted my family to find stable employment. My husband is now working on a farm and earning a steady income.

Before we moved to Leeton, we stayed in Granville in an overcrowded house with 11 men. This placed my daughter at significant risk of harm. Our family was referred to HoW by another service provider. They arranged accommodation for my family, which provided us with a safe place to live.

We accessed the HoW foodbank, financial assistance, casework and employment program. Our caseworker was so caring, helpful and understanding. She provided us with good advice when needed and spoke a similar dialect which made it easier to communicate. Having a common language made us feel safe and secure as our basic needs were met. We felt ‘heard’, ‘understood’ and ‘valued’ by our caseworker.

HoW’s Welcome Start Transitional Housing Program provided us with safe accommodation. This stability allowed us to build our English and employability skills.

Community is important to us. When we have a good income, we are able to give back to the community by contributing to organisations such as HoW and other service providers, to help others in need.

When I moved to Leeton with my family, I was invited by the Mayor to join the Multicultural Community Meeting. The meeting was about assisting my family to settle into Leeton. The outcome of the meeting was to offer free English classes to my husband and foodbank services; to provide household items like beds, a fridge, washing machine, dining table and chairs, television, couch and cupboards, and to assist with our rental property.

With the support of House of Welcome, I have become more confident to advocate on behalf of my family and feel confident to access support independently when needed.

*Name changed to protect privacy

Published with collaboration from House of Welcome.

You can help refugees and asylum seekers in our Diocese through our Diocesan Food Drive Roster which donates desperately needed food supplies to the House of Welcome and Jesuit Refugee Service.

This article highlights a story from the “Diocesan Journey… Walking with Refugees and People Seeking Protection”. Click here to learn more about this initiative and to follow our 14-weeks campaign from Refugee Week to World Day of Migrants and Refugees. 


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