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20 Apr 2020


Newcomer family faced with special challenges during COVID-19 lockdown


Some refugee children have it even tougher during the COVID-19 lockdown without access to suitable technology.

Rana Kareem Loqa arrived in Australia as a refugee with her three children and husband in November 2019 after spending one year in limbo in Lebanon.

Ms Kareem Loqa and her family are from a Chaldean background and had fled Iraq due to the war. Her husband had held a respectable job in a media firm before their lives were turned upside down.

SSI’s Humanitarian Settlement Program has provided Ms Kareem Loqa and her family with wrap-around refugee support services, including securing accommodation and supporting them to navigate their everyday lives.

Over the past six months since their arrival in Sydney, the family has mainly been focused on settling into their new lives. Ms Kareem Loqa spends her days tending to her children and domestic household needs.

Since NSW has enforced the COVID-19 lockdown measures, Ms Kareem Loqa’s children, aged 11, 14 and 18, have had to be home-schooled like many other children in the state.

When asked how she felt about the prospect of home-schooling her children, she said that it presented a new set of challenges as they did not have access to the appropriate technology at home.

“My children are studying online, but they are using a phone,” Ms Kareem Loqa said.

“They do not have a computer or iPad, and we don’t have any technological devices. It’s hard for them.”

Ms Kareem Loqa said the household of five was sharing two basic mobile devices that they had brought with them from Iraq to educate three children and support two adults through their English course.

“My husband and I are also studying English online, and we are required to study every day,” she said.

“It’s really hard for my children as they cannot access some programs that the teacher has asked them to do. Sometimes they cannot complete their homework.”

Ms Kareem Loqa said that learning English wasn’t proving to be such a big challenge because they could support each other.

“It’s no problem — we can help each other learn English in the home.”

When asked whether they had found the lockdown particularly isolating, Ms Kareem Loqa said that they understood why the measures were in place and that life felt much the same because they were keeping themselves preoccupied at home.

“No, we feel normal, because the situation is the same for everyone,” Ms Kareem Loqa said.

“Life is normal, and we are sitting at home. We understand the situation.”

Ms Kareem Loqa said that they understood the lockdown measures were not permanent and that they were grateful to SSI and the Australian government for the supports that they had received since their arrival.

“SSI supports us a lot, whenever we need anything. We are very grateful.”

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