Suravi* is a single 49-year-old woman from South Asia who came to Australia seeking asylum. She has lived at Providence House for a year and a half. Here is her story:
“At first when I moved here I was totally alone. It was a difficult time, I had not enough money. Everything was new to me, I had no job, I had no study. I was tense, disappointed, wondering how can I pay rent, how can I survive by myself?
I talked to my caseworker at the Asylum Seekers Centre and told her my problems, she found a place for me at Providence House which was a great, great support. If I didn’t come here I don’t know what would have happened.”
New friendships bloom at Providence House
“Now I have a room to myself. In Providence House there are four units – three families, three single women in one unit, and one pet!
It was a different experience to me, a different journey sharing one unit with others. I meet with new people, meet with their culture and traditions, see how we can communicate with each other, I have learnt a lot from them.
I’m always happy with them, we share some food, experiences, our stories. It’s a great friendship. Sometimes my flatmates and I cook special things to eat. One of my hobbies is cooking. Especially I like to cook our traditional foods: biryani, fish curry, I always love fish curry. In our country one of the most popular local foods is roti with beef curry.
I am always enjoying my little garden. When I feel really stressed, or in trauma, I go to my garden and I feel happy. At the moment I have coriander and mint and I have planted chilli and some greens. Some vegetables are already coming up, sunflowers also, aloe vera. It’s giving me a lot of pleasure.”
Making a life in Australia
“I have finished studying a certificate in disability support. I have already found a job, now I am quite busy. It’s a great achievement. Working with disabled clients I think is a great and honourable part of my life, because I love my clients. If I had the chance I want to do more work for the disabled sector. I also want to start a little cooking business, like a restaurant.
One day I have to leave Providence House because new residents will need to come in. I want to work with the new people – who are just like me – to assist them. Living in this house I think is giving us empowerment, inner peace.
It’s a different state to survive by yourself compared to having others’ support. When you try to build up your skills, in this moment if you find support like Providence House – I have no words to explain. It’s a big, big support to us. The ones who have left, the ones who come in next and the ones who are living here now – every resident will never forget this house and the chance to live here. Our heartfelt gratitude to the Sisters of Charity Foundation, the Asylum Seekers Centre, to every person who helped us.”
Providence House and the Asylum Seekers Housing Program
In 2014 the Sisters of Charity Foundation and the Asylum Seekers Centre formed the Asylum Seekers Housing Program to provide people seeking asylum with emergency and transitional housing. The Foundation purchased and renovated a 4-apartment residential building in Sydney’s Inner West: Providence House.
Some residents have recently arrived in Australia and are in desperate need of immediate support. Others have been in the country longer, but circumstances such as no work rights and financial pressures, or other unexpected changes, have rendered it impossible for them to stay in their previous home. Many have experienced traumatic events in their country of origin, and women in particular may have been subjected to sexual and gender-based violence.
The safety and stability of Providence House helps residents begin to address some of the myriad challenges they face.
*Name has been changed for safety reasons.
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