Our Stories

Amita’s Story

I came to Australia 23 years ago as a refugee on a boat. I built my life from nothing to something. I was married and have five beautiful children from that relationship. After many years, I became a single mum and worked hard to raise my children on my own.

After being a Permanent Resident in Australia for 18 years, I decided to take the Australian Citizenship test. I passed and proudly received my Australian passport.

My mum still lived overseas, I sadly had not seen her in years. One day, while I was at work, I received a phone call – it wasn’t good news. I learnt that my mum was sick. I immediately asked my boss for time off to visit her – they granted me a few weeks’ leave.

It was my first time returning home. I took my youngest daughter with me, she was only nine years old. A friend agreed to look after my other children while I visited. It was incredible to see my mum for the first time in almost two decades.

I had only been there a matter of days before the news hit – the COVID-19 pandemic caused international borders to close.

Between the pandemic, financial restraints, and visa complications, I ended up getting stuck in my home country for several years. My four older children were able to stay with my father.

While I was there, my mum passed away. As an Australian citizen, I wasn’t able to gain any employment in my home country. I picked up odd jobs and sold all my possessions in order to keep sending money back to my children in Australia.

Then I received another call, my father in Australia had passed away. It was time to come home.

I lived in a rental property when I left to care for my mother, for what I thought would be a few weeks. I returned to Australia homeless. A family friend looked after my children whilst I looked desperately for employment. My days were so dark. After three weeks of rough sleeping and couch-surfing, I was able to get a room at Catherine House.

I was so happy. Being at Catherine House, I saw a lot of opportunities and knew that I could get the help I needed to start all over again.

As soon as I could, I took my resume to the Education & Employment Officer to help me find a way to work so I could support myself and my children. I said I would do anything. I’m so grateful I was able to get help paying for educational courses.

I want to take the opportunity to thank the donors for the support that I have received. Thank you so much for giving me a second chance to get back on my feet again.\

The Catherine House Education Fund supported me financially in returning to the workforce. I completed my White Card and Traffic Management courses to become a Traffic Controller. I was provided with work clothing, including steel cap boots, and a laptop to complete my work inductions. I had to re-sit for my Australian driver’s licence, as it expired while I was overseas, which was also paid for. All of this helped me to become employed again.

Being at Catherine House for five months meant I could gain paid work and build my confidence again. Now I’m working and never say no to any shift work. My future looks good even though it still seems a bit slow to reach my goals. But through all these processes and life experiences, I still count myself blessed to have the help and support that was available to me during this time.

Thanks a lot to all Catherine House staff and all the donors who help us women to fix something that seems impossible and make it possible.

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