Spring Appeal 2022
01 September 2022
Each year, thanks to the wonderful generosity of our friends and supporters, JRS Australia serves more than 3,000 refugees and people seeking asylum in Australia. We witness their struggles, resilience, and hopes.
We recently sat down with Mohammad – a father, husband, a successful professional in advertising and printing in Afghanistan, and one of the many people who fled Kabul last year when the Taliban forcefully took over. We left inspired by his experiences forging resilience and solidarity in the face of insurmountable odds.
Mohammad points to his phone wallpaper showing his 18-month-old baby girl sitting in the sunshine with his wife.
“She’s a life-changer. I can say that because my best memories have been since she arrived into our family.
“I’m thankful for my God and for the Australian Government that she is going to have a much brighter future than we have had. That’s the most important thing now.”
In the wake of the takeover of Kabul, Mohammad, his wife and other family members fled Afghanistan seeking safety and security. They arrived in Australia and it has now been a year since they settled in Sydney’s Western suburbs after their traumatic evacuation.
Though thankful to have found safety in Australia, Mohammad is still grappling with the fact that he had to suddenly leave behind friends and a successful career in print and advertising in Afghanistan. The process of adjusting to his new life has been difficult however he has found his footing through community building and connection.
“We made new friends on our way from Dubai to Darwin because we had to leave behind friends in Afghanistan,” says Mohammad as he reflects on his evacuation experience.
“When you are coming from overseas, it’s difficult to find accommodation and difficult to find food. The plane was full of refugees, and many did not know English. Somehow, we managed. We created a small support group and step by step, it grew since arriving in Australia. We will try to help each other. We tried to find out about organisations that were giving refugees new opportunities. We tried to find any resource.”
Mohammad had built his own community of newly arrived refugees and migrants digitally – spanning across every corner of Australia. This network of over 300 people were constantly sharing services for refugees and ways to start their new life in Australia. Mohammad and his friends volunteered their time to help 97 people apply for photo identification by translating forms and even physically accompanying people to Service NSW.
“We tried to help every person in our network by translating. Many people knew what they needed but were held back by language barriers.”
Through his research of available services for refugees, Mohammad found JRS Australia.
With the help of the JRS Australia Employment Program, Mohammad received his White Card qualification which allowed him to initially find work in the construction industry. Since then, he has tried his hand at a few different jobs to support his family as his tertiary qualifications are not recognised in Australia.
“Tamana [JRS Australia Employment Program Coordinator] has been so active. She was always trying to help every single person and being amazing. I asked so many questions about work at first and she was always happy to help.”
Since 2021, the JRS Australia Employment Program has assisted 219 refugees and people seeking asylum prepare for and navigate the Australian job market. Clients are equipped with work readiness skills including resume building, interview preparation, provided information about their employment rights, and given the tools they need to feel confident to join the workforce.
Like Mohammad, over 48 participants of the program completed accredited training courses to receive White Card, first aid, forklift, traffic control, and security qualifications. Over 90 refugees and people seeking asylum have been able to find meaningful work, many of whom feel more confident to find employment on their own now that they have the tools and resources to do so.
“This is the new family. This is the new friends. This is the new community that we currently have. Somehow, we have tried to take every single opportunity given to us whether it was first aid or forklift driving courses. Short courses to learn English or preparation for White Card training.”
Two months ago, Mohammad expressed that he missed working for himself and wanted to reignite his career in print and advertising in Australia. Through the JRS Australia Device Drive, Mohammad received a phone and a laptop to help him on his journey to finding meaningful work.
JRS Australia has been able to distribute over 60 devices to refugees, people seeking asylum and temporary visa holders across Sydney. These devices enable families and individuals access meaningful work and training opportunities and to stay connected with family and friends in Australia and abroad.
“I met many refugees who had left behind good jobs and bright futures. They just wanted a safe place to start it back again. The phone and laptop I was given from JRS Australia has been key in starting my career back again.”
Mohammad has been able to use his new laptop to design banners, signs, and other projects for clients in his growing business and has been able to collaborate with other newly arrived refugees, sharing his own resources and clients.
Thanks to generous people like you, the JRS Australia team can continue to offer solidarity to our sisters and brothers, supporting them to access their rights and the safety net they have been denied whether it’s through providing employment support or complex casework addressing housing, homelessness, physical health, mental health crisis, among other emergencies.
Like Mohammad, refugees and people seeking asylum have come here seeking safety and want to contribute to their communities. They deserve the fulfilment of their rights, including access to essential needs like food, housing, and healthcare. They deserve dignity, security, and the opportunity to live in peace. They deserve to have their asylum claims resolved swiftly and fairly, and if they are found to be owed protection, they should be granted a permanent visa to remain in Australia and rebuild their lives here.
JRS Australia does not receive any Federal Government funding. We value our ability to advocate independently for the rights of the people we serve. Our resources, however thin they are stretched, are crucial and offer hope.
Today, your tax deductible gift can make a real difference in the lives of the children, women and men that JRS is so honoured to serve. Today you can invest in helping us build a future with refugees and people seeking asylum.
You can donate online via credit card, bank transfer or by mailing a cheque or by calling the JRS office on (02) 9356 3888.
We thank you for your compassion and hope you can continue to support us in our work by taking action today.
In solidarity always,
The JRS Australia Team