Part of a series of 16 stories featuring women we have accompanied through the Finding Safety Project, shared for the 16 Days of Activism.
Maryam completed a Science degree in her home country, and was hoping to study Medicine.
However, when Maryam fell pregnant after experiencing sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), she faced shame and judgement from her community. Her husband left her when he found out.
Maryam came to Australia in search of a better life for herself, her daughter, and her unborn child.
When Maryam was introduced to the Finding Safety Project, she was five months pregnant, and had no access to government or mainstream support.
A specialist SGBV caseworker was able to provide Maryam with a range of tailor-made and wrap-around services to meet her unique needs.
For example, through the Finding Safety Project, Maryam was able to access financial aid for rent and living expenses, as well as the JRS Australia Foodbank for essential food and household items.
Maryam was also referred to Refugee Health for support with her pregnancy, Refugee Advice and Casework Service (RACS) for legal and immigration assistance, and a counsellor to help provide emotional support.
Maryam’s caseworker sourced funding for childcare for Maryam’s oldest daughter, and organised the donation of items for her newborn, including a cot, car seat, pram, and baby clothing.
With essential needs met, Maryam was able to regain some time and space to process her next steps.
Maryam started attending training organised by JRS Australia’s Employment program, and engaging in community activities at the Women’s Space. These activities helped Maryam break her social isolation and provided her with a much-needed sense of belonging and connection.
As Maryam’s strength grew, so did her ambitions. Maryam now hopes to study nursing, a career where she can make a meaningful difference in the lives of others.
Maryam expressed her appreciation to her caseworker, acknowledging the pivotal role their support played in her journey: “I don’t know what I would have done without your guidance and support throughout the journey of my pregnancy and life. Your constant encouragement gave me courage and has made me a better woman. Thank you so much.”
*name changed to protect story-teller’s identity
16 Days of Activism
JRS Australia is participating in the call to action presented by the 16 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Women and Girls. This story has been shared as part of our “16 Days, 16 Stories” Campaign for 2023, focusing on the work we do through our Finding Safety Project to support women on temporary visas who have experienced or are at risk of sexual or gender-based violence.
We sincerely hope that reading these stories, and learning more about the important work our Finding Safety Project does in the absence of any other coordinated or government support, will inspire you to invest in us, invest in the women we serve, and invest in a future where women and girls are free from all forms of violence.
Visit our 16 Days, 16 Stories campaign page to learn more.