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19 Apr 2016


Young refugee masters the art of giving

Ranita is studying for a career in community services.

Ranita spent three months volunteering at a child care centre last year and was recently selected for a one-year volunteering opportunity with Red Cross, where she will use her proficiency in three languages to connect with elderly members of her community.

“When you are new here and you volunteer and work with different people, you pick up the culture,” she said.

“I want to try to communicate and try to work with other people, because that’s where you pick up the culture and get to give back something to this country.”

Ranita is currently studying a community services certification through TAFE and hopes to turn her passion for volunteering into a full time job one day.

“You know the saying, the art of giving? My goal is ‘to give’ whether that’s with aged care or with childcare,” she said. “This is the career that I want to be in; I want to help other people because people were there to help me when I needed it.”

Ongoing civil war in her native country of Syria forced Ranita and her family to flee to Lebanon, where they lived for a year before being resettled in Australia in June 2015.

Settlement Services International (SSI) provided temporary accommodation for Ranita and her parents and two brothers, while her case manager provided ongoing support, as well as practical help with thing such as filling out forms for Centrelink and Medicare registrations, and finding local services such as schools, banks and medical services.

“It’s a whole new country, so we needed somebody to be with us and our case manager was a very big help. She was supportive and always there for us,” Ranita said.

“It was very satisfying for us to receive this help – it made us feel welcome, and I would like to share the feeling with others.”

While Ranita’s experience starting life again in a new country has inspired her community services studies, giving back was a way of life for her long before arriving in Australia.

“In Syria, I was a teacher, so to help other people is part of my personality,” she said.

For now, Ranita is leaving her career options open, but she hopes to work somewhere in the community services field when she finishes her studies.

“I’m going to try to volunteer with children and in aged care because I’m new here to Australia and I have to try everything so I can decide what I’m going to do,” she said.

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