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10 Sep 2020


Determined young refugee takes life by storm: learns English, finds casual employment and invests into future

Serina Saka (L) captured with her family.

Arriving in Sydney airport in 2019, the Saka family were greeted by Settlement Services International (SSI), who provided them with wrap-around case management services, including finding temporary accommodation.  

Ms Saka is currently enrolled at Mary Mackillop Catholic College as a Year 11 student. She did not speak English when she first arrived and has demonstrated her determination to learn the language through her volunteering at the school library and providing student support through orientation activities.

“I help new students by providing orientation of the school and helping them to feel welcome,” Ms Saka said. 

“Some of them don’t know the language like me, and I want to help them.”

Recently, Ms Saka requested assistance from her SSI case manager to find a casual job within the Fairfield area and was supported in developing her resume.  She met with her case manager at Neeta City Fairfield, and they went to over twenty local shops, requesting to speak to store managers and hand in her resume.

The manager of the café, The Big Hot Dog, was impressed with Ms Saka’s positive attitude and offered her a trial starting the next day. 

After only a trial period of two short days, where she was making coffee, serving customers, and wiping down tables, Ms Saka was offered paid employment. She said that she was very grateful for the support of her case manager.

“Everything at work is good, I love it so much,” she said.

“I work every Saturday and Sunday, thanks to the help of my SSI case manager.” 

Ms Saka spent her first payment on getting professional driving lessons as she obtained her learners permit in August last year, but didn’t have the opportunity to drive yet. When asked what she thinks about Australia, Ms Saka expressed that she feels settled in her new home. 

“Australia is so good, we love it so much,” Ms Saka said.

“Here in Australia, you can reach your dreams and find work, but back in Iraq, it’s harder as a woman, you marry when you’re 18.”

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