Joining CatholicCare: Power through persistence
After graduating from TAFE in 2008, Rafa joined our CatholicCare and began educating other refugees about life in Australia and connecting them to our services. In 2009, she joined our Family Support program. Looking back on her time at CatholicCare so far, Rafa says she’s grateful to have the opportunity to help people from all walks of life. And it’s easy to see she’s got a knack for it.
Rafa shares the story of how she helped a woman, for who English was a second language, claim support she was entitled to, and so desperately needed.
“A woman suffering domestic violence came to me for help. She was struggling to communicate with staff at an office for people seeking financial assistance. She had visited every day for weeks to ask why money hadn’t gone into her account, even though they had said she should have received it. When I arrived at the office with her, someone asked, ‘How do you communicate with this lady?’ I said, ‘You sit with your client, you talk with them slowly, and listen to what they are saying. Only this way can you understand their needs. You learn their story and go from there.’”
With patience and quiet passion, Rafa discovered that her client needed to provide financial documentation for her application to be approved. After showing her client how to add her payslip to her file, the client soon began receiving payments.
“They back-dated the payments. I was very disappointed in how this woman had been treated. You can’t treat people like that just because of a language barrier. That’s wrong. We must always focus on getting to the bottom of any problem – no matter the barriers. It’s not easy for the client, but nothing will be too hard if we persist.”
In another memory Rafa shares with us, a Sudanese woman’s financial assistance application had been rejected because the office believed she was a property owner. With nowhere else to turn, she’d been collecting cans on the road for money.
“I told the lady at the office about the housing situation in South Sudan. Anyone can settle in a displacement camp and the government will give you a small plot of land. My client had built a five bedroom house on the plot, with local materials, for her family of ten. But because there was no paperwork, her property had been taken by the government. The lady at the office said, ‘Are you sure?’ I said, ‘Yes, because the same thing happened to me.’ When we left, my client hugged me and cried. Later, she called to tell me she received her first payment. ‘I can buy food for my children!’ she said.”
Rafa’s commitment and perseverance clearly make her an incredible Support Worker – someone her colleagues say they are privileged to work alongside every day. We ask her to share some thoughts with anyone aspiring to join CatholicCare:
“I learn a lot here – from my colleagues, the communities and the wider sector. I learn so much because of how we bring love, lift others up, and work as a team. This organisation is welcoming. We encourage collaboration, respect and honesty. We are accountable to do the right thing; to respect one another and to commit to others. It’s about love.”