Faith arrived in Australia and started high school at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Classes had to be delivered online which was very challenging for Faith as she had limited English and her computer skills were virtually non-existent.
On June 11, 2021, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Faith arrived in Australia from Liberia. At the time she was 13 years ten months old and had been separated from her mother for nearly eight years. Faith’s mother Ellen originally came to Australia in 2013, as part of a post graduate scholarship program to complete a Master of Public Health degree while her family remained with extended family in Liberia. Already a registered nurse, she intended to complete her degree and return home to her family after 18 months of study.
When the time came for Ellen to return to Liberia, she found that there were security issues in her home country, and it was not safe for her to travel there. She immediately applied for a protection visa in August 2014. Ellen’s three daughters, of whom Faith is the youngest, remained in Liberia while her visa was being processed.
On July 19, 2016, Ellen’s visa was approved, and she decided to go back to university to update her registered nurse qualifications, as it was difficult to get work here in Australia. In November 2017, she applied for visas for Faith and her sisters to join her in Australia as she could not return home. The visas process took about three excruciating years to be approved and were finally granted in October 2020 during the peak of the Covid-19 Pandemic.
Faith and her sisters finally arrived in Australia in June 2021, however the trip itself was not without its difficulties as flights were unpredictable and costs tripled. Refugees & Partners Inc. Zara’s House Community of which Ellen is an active member, helped raised the needed funds to cover the exorbitant cost of travel. After arriving in Australia Faith and her sisters spent two weeks in hotel quarantine in Sydney before they were eventually able to be reunited with their mother in Newcastle.
Faith enrolled in Year 7 at San Clemente High School, but it was challenging for her with lessons still being delivered online. Her computer skills were virtually non-existent, and she struggled with schoolwork and making new friends.
Now in Year 8, Faith has come a long way in 12 months with her schooling. She attends weekly tutoring at the Catholic Care Refugee Hub and her English is much improved. She will be receiving ongoing support from Grow a Star, including the provision of a personal laptop to help her schoolwork.
Like any young person her career plans are often changing, but for now, she is focused on doing her very best at school and on learning as much as possible so that she will have more opportunities in the future.