On The Third Day of Christmas My Wish Came True

ON the third day of Christmas, my wish came true for a home. 

“The day I walked into McAuley House was the best day of my life.”

Aliza, aged 34, knows what it is like to be on the run. She came to Australia as an asylum seeker three years ago.

The tell tale signs of trauma are obvious. Her hands don’t stop and she speaks in a whisper, as if she fears that someone will hear.

“I lived in a remote corner of my country where my parents were farmers. We kept goats, grew vegetables, and managed to get by,” Aliza said.

“My parents knew the value of an education and made sure I finished school. I graduated from college with a teaching diploma and taught in primary school for a year.”

Her passion is writing. For 12 years, Aliza worked in public health as a journalist and then a radio newsreader promoting hygiene, how to recognise disease symptoms, nutrition, and women’s issues.

“I was arrested as I was seen to be outspoken, I managed to escape to Sudan, leaving behind my husband, two children,” Aliza said. She took her baby with her as she was breastfeeding.

The next months were a blur as Aliza frantically applied for asylum in Australia. She was finally accepted in 2012. She knew nobody when she arrived in Melbourne. She was referred to McAuley Community Services for Women by the Red Cross and has never looked back.

“McAuley House was life giving. It is as simple as that. I had no home, my family were not with me, I was not used to the weather, but the case managers and other women at McAuley House rallied around me and helped me to adjust to life.”

“With their help I became connected with my culture’s community, and also found full time work as a cleaner and at a hairdresser,” Aliza said.

For her, money was critical as it allowed her to support her family back home as well as begin to build savings.

As her confidence grew, Aliza was supported by McAuley House caseworkers to apply for permanent residency. Her case was successful, allowing her to apply to study aged care.

The next step in her journey to independence came when she moved out of McAuley House and into a four-bedroom house with a front and back garden.

“It was the ticket I needed to apply for family visas for my husband and daughters. Without a house of my own large enough for my family, I would never have been successful,” she said.

This August, after three years, Aliza was reunited with her family. Two of her daughters are now at school and her youngest is due to start next year. Her husband is applying to study biology at the University of Melbourne. Her connection with McAuley House remains strong and vibrant. Caseworkers are helping her to liaise with Centrelink and the Australian Tax Office.

“You have to have somewhere to live if you are to be truly alive. McAuley has been life giving to me,” Aliza said.

McAuley Community Services for Women supports women, with and without children, who are escaping family violence and who are either homeless or at risk of homelessness. Aliza’s wish for a new home came true. Help us help other women’s wishes for a new home come true.