When Joseph Balikuddembe arrived in Australia six months ago, he had no idea what the future held.
Having left his family behind in a politically volatile country that is notorious for gross human rights violations, he sought refuge in Queensland.
With help from Mercy Community, he has found just that.
Now he’s working for our Disability Supports team at the Zillmere office and is looking forward to one day being reunited with his wife and children – a one-year-old son and newborn daughter.
“I miss them every day, but when the immigration process is over, I hope to be able to bring them to Brisbane,” he says.
“Queensland is a very good place to raise a family. It’s thankfully a lot safer, has a good transport system and I also like the weather – it’s very similar to what I’m used to.”
Joseph landed on his feet thanks to Mercy Community’s innovative new employment project.
Through a collaboration with our Romero Centre (which supports people seeking asylum), we are able to find work for people like Joseph in our Disability Supports team.
Having experienced displacement, uncertainty, and challenges few could comprehend, Mercy Community believes people seeking asylum are uniquely placed to possess the empathy needed to work in the disability supports sector.
Joseph started as a support worker in October, visiting people at home and taking them out and about in the community.
He made such a good impression that he has now been promoted to Administration Officer.
It’s a far cry from his work in Uganda where he worked as a social worker for not-for-profit organisation St James Foundation – advocating for orphans, widows, and other marginalised groups. It was an eye-opening experience that stood him in good stead.
“I welcomed the role at Mercy Community with open arms because I’m passionate about creating an impact in the lives of people with disabilities,” he says.
“I believe more asylum seekers can contribute positively along these lines if they are given an opportunity.
“By finding work in the disability support sector, we are able to be financially independent, make our tax obligations and ultimately be good citizens in this country.
“Working here is a very rewarding experience. Knowing you’re creating a positive impact in someone’s life, seeing them happy, it just brings me such joy.”
What’s next for Joseph?
He’d like to be able to master the Aussie accent.
“I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to understand it,” he laughs.
“What is this ‘fair dinkum’ everyone is talking about?”
Answers on a postcard…