Noel arrived in Australia as a refugee from Rwanda. Isolation, poverty and the fear of becoming homeless plagued his early years in Australia. Despite ongoing life challenges, Noel persisted. Five years ago Evolve Housing gave Noel and his young family a home, and a place to flourish. And flourish he did.
This is his story.
My name is Noel, I am 30 years old. I was born in Rwanda and arrived in Australia in 2006 as a refugee.
I was placed in temporary accommodation when I arrived. As a refugee, housing was the biggest issue we had to overcome. A case worker referred me to Evolve Housing and I submitted an application in October 2006. I was on the waiting list for three years. It was a long and arduous wait. I was faced with the challenge of learning to adapt to a new life in a new country, while studying and having to pay market rent.
Our application was finally accepted and we became an Evolve Housing resident in 2009. It was a huge relief. I continued with my studies, completed my diploma and then Bachelor’s degree in Social Welfare and Health. To support myself and my family, I worked as a case worker with the Salvation Army while I was a student. After I finished my studies, I got a job at St Anthony’s family care.
As an Evolve Housing resident, we felt safe and secure. Maintenance was well managed and communication with the staff was very effective. We had a good relationship with our housing managers and were always able to voice our concerns and have them addressed.
'We want to be independent'
My wife and my vision has always been to one day become independent. Although we could stay as long as we wanted in community housing, we were determined to move on and contribute to the country that has welcomed and taken us in. We are very grateful for what Evolve Housing has done for us, but once we started working and have saved enough money, we knew it was time to leave. There are other people who need the place more than us, and we want Evolve Housing to be able to help them, just like how it helped us.
Working with migrants and refugees
I am now a community development officer at Saint Anthony’s Family Care and work mostly with migrants and refugees. I like my job because I am able to help people who are like me when I first arrived in Australia. I know how hard it is.
I am also completing a Master’s degree in Policy and Social Research. During my spare time I coordinate events in my community as a community leader. My wife and I have two kids and we are planning to purchase our own property next year.
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Next week: Cheryl's Story - From emergency housing to her own home