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09 Sep 2021

News

Refugee mother faced with unique challenges during lockdown

 

Yasameen Al-Natrawee (R) fled Iraq with her seven-year-old daughter, Linda (L).

The former chemical engineer was granted a visa to Australia with her seven-year-old daughter, Linda, in 2019. 

The Humanitarian Settlement Program, funded by the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs* and delivered by Settlement Services International, has provided Ms Al-Natrawee with wrap-around support services since she arrived.

Since moving to Australia, Ms Al-Natrawee has had a series of jobs, including delivery courier services, office administration, and private childcare. 

A local resident to Fairfield in Sydney’s west, Ms Al-Natrawee, recently spoke to ABC News about how she has been severely impacted by the current lockdown, including losing work. 

“Before the lockdown, I was taking care of children, and some of the homes I visited were in Fairfield and Liverpool.”

“But because of lockdown, I can’t work in another person’s house.”

As a single mother from a refugee background, Ms Al-Natrawee’s situation presents unique challenges that have hard financial implications, including not being able to ask anyone to take care of her daughter while she goes to work.

“The lockdown makes it hard to pay the bills, you know, the electricity, the internet, and the rent, you know, all these things.

“My mother lives nearby, and she could help me, but because she’s in a different household, I can’t even ask her to care for my daughter.”

Homeschooling is another challenge as it’s hard to keep her young daughter motivated when she becomes restless indoors.

“My daughter doesn’t understand why we can’t go shopping and play for longer times outside.

“It’s hard for a little girl to be inside all day, every day, only with her mother and no other children.”

Many refugee families attempting to homeschool during lockdown are finding it particularly difficult without access to suitable technology. 

Technology barriers are commonplace, and, as in Ms Al-Natrawee’s case, her mobile phone is the only device with internet access at home, presenting challenges with all schooling being driven online. 

“It is hard to teach my daughter on a small screen, and some documents, PDFs, don’t open properly.”

Despite already being fully vaccinated, Ms Al-Natrawee has her groceries delivered to her home to mitigate the risks of community transmission of the virus.

“I do all my shopping online and delivery, and I already got my vaccine in Olympic Park.  

“I am fully vaccinated and follow all restrictions.”

Ms Al-Natrawee’s siblings work in health care. Her brother works in reception at a hospital in Sydney, often tasked with translating information into Arabic from English. Her sister is a doctor. 

“Everyone in my (extended) family is fully vaccinated, and we are all trying to get the message out there in our community about the importance of getting vaccinated.”

 

*Go to https://homeaffairs.gov.au/ for more information.

 

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