In 2012, Miriam* arrived in Australia alone and isolated with her three primary school aged children. She had fled poverty stricken circumstances in Ethiopia as a consequence of famine and war and had unwillingly left behind her husband, the children’s father. She was keen to start a new life and give her children the opportunity to obtain an education. She holds on to the hope of one day being reunited with her husband.
Nexus Church QLD Program Coordinator, Megan Micalizzi, says, “Miriam was really very anxious and depressed when she was referred to the COACH program. She didn’t have any supportive social network and from my perspective, while she was great at ensuring the kids were well looked after – meeting their needs, she wasn’t really in the space to look after her own social and emotional needs. I was of the view that if she wasn’t having these needs met that it would impact on her capacity to care for herself and then possibly affect her children.”
Miriam’s isolation and fragile emotional health was compounded by the fact that she arrived in the country as a young mother, alone, and unable to speak English.
Miriam was referred into the COACH program by a local community welfare organisation. She identified her main goals as learning general life skills and developing a sense of social connectedness. Megan says, “Miriam hit those goals out of the park.”
Nexus connected Miriam with three mentors in her time of need. Two mentors, Sandy and Christina, worked together assisting Miriam to make community connections and to develop the general life skills needed to cope with living in a new country as a single mum. Sandy helped Miriam assimilate into her new country’s customs, teaching her how to host her very first children’s birthday party with party food, games and dancing for her five year old daughter Brooke and her new Australian school friends.
Her other mentor, Nermine, worked with Miriam to develop financial and budgeting skills. Three years on, Miriam is much more capable of managing her life and her finances, keeping her household ticking over.
Miriam said, “I have learned how to budget and that has taken a lot of the stress away from my life.”
With COACH support, Miriam now participates in community morning teas for disadvantaged community members and also volunteers with cooking classes for Nexus Care’s local community. Miriam offers encouragement and practical support to the morning tea and cooking class participants. This engagement has not only met her own need to be connected with others in her local community, but has also imbued Miriam with a sense of purpose and confidence that she can contribute positively to the lives of others.
Megan says, “To me, Miriam has a heart that is looking to connect and also for opportunities to serve and this is a great quality – she is full of encouragement for others. Since connecting with the COACH program Miriam presents as far less depressed and her countenance tells the story of inner transformation and purpose… her face has come alive.”
Miriam says, “I am so lucky to be connected with the COACH program… I even have three mentors. I love the influence my mentors have had because they are… all good, kind, encouraging, helpful, reliable, honest and always so nice… without the COACH program and the support from my mentors I probably would have been in a lot of trouble.”
*Name changed to protect privacy