Today is World Refugee Day and to celebrate the courage and strength of displaced people around the world, we are sharing the courageous story of one of our own employees, Mary.
“In 2009 my husband and I left our home country Sri Lanka for Malaysia as our lives were in danger during the civil war. In Malaysia we worked as school security officers and saved money to come to Australia. We paid $7000AUD each to boat runners who promised us a safe passage to Australia.
We travelled in a small boat which was crowded, overloaded and the boat became damaged from the weight. As we approached Australian waters we were suffering, as the boat was flooding. At the edge of the international water border, we were met by the Australian Navy, who asked us to come into Australian waters so they could help us. When we boarded the Australian Navy ship, we finally felt safe and the Navy took us to Christmas Island.
We arrived at Christmas Island in 2013 and we stayed for one month before being flown to Melbourne where we spent 18 months in Maygar Barracks. Once released we spent a hard life for the first few years due to no work, because we were asylum seekers we had few opportunities to get a job.
I didn't have any qualifications in textiles so I forced myself to study Certificate lll in Clothing and Textiles with New Futures Training. After I completed the course, I was offered a job with Second Stitch. After I started working I was so happy and able to live a better life with my husband. I have worked with Second Stitch for 4 years and have developed my skills and knowledge. I am now assisting with our Clothing and Textiles classes for two days per week at @newfuturestrainingbraybrook and I am a translator for our Tamil class.
Although we are settled and safe in Australia, our safety has meant that I have not seen my children for eleven years. My children are still in Sri Lanka and I hope one day I will get my PR so I can bring them to live with us in Australia.”