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14 Jun 2024

Case Studies

Faith and fate: Ana was destined to help fellow refugees in Australia

23-year-old Anastasiia (Ana) is wise beyond her years. Originally from Ukraine, Ana is forging a passionate life for herself, working in her dream job in Australia – but it hasn’t been without challenges. 

Ana left Ukraine in 2022 at the start of the Russian invasion. She left behind her parents, and a mother who was firm in her resolve to give Ana the opportunities she deserved. 

Armed with youthful confidence, and partway through a bachelor’s degree in international law, Ana was determined to make the most of her education and experience in her new city of Sydney despite the challenging circumstances. 

“At one point I was homeless and jobless. I couldn’t plan – there is no planning ahead in this situation – you are just grabbing chances by their tail,” Ana recalled. 

Like many new arrivals who receive initial housing and support, there are obstacles to overcome before many individuals and families can find permanent security or the freedom to live life to the fullest. 

It was a gruelling year as Ana faced the daunting task of searching for permanent work and accommodation in a new country, largely alone. 

After an uninspiring administration role at a law firm, Ana was left walking around Sydney city handing her resume out to cafés and shops. 

“I remember giving my last CV out, and as I walked out of the café, I burst into tears. It was at that point I remembered my faith and the conversation I’d had with God, and I knew then that I didn’t need to worry. He would give me my daily bread. This is why I have such strong faith,” she said. 

Fate, faith, or both led her into a music shop, and to a new employer.

“The record shop owner listened to my story and gave me a job. I worked weekends there while finishing my degree. I dearly loved that job. I met a lot of incredible people, but at some point, I knew I had healed and needed to move on.”

Ana was intent on finding a job that meant something to her. Many new arrivals are often in similar circumstances and looking for a chance to utilise their overseas skillset to lead fulfilling careers.

After a temporary job in a publishing house, fate called again, this time in the form of her SSI caseworker. A job opportunity had opened at SSI’s Immediate Services team, which led Ana to her dream job as a support worker for new arrivals. Her current role focuses on providing essential living supplies, housing and support to new arrivals in their first moments in Australia.

“This is my place. This is my team. I love it. I realised that giving back to people – this is my type of environment. I am not a businessperson; I am a person of passion. I’m fighting for the idea. I’m standing for the idea,” Ana said. 

It’s been the experience in this role that led Ana to the realisation that her passion was in giving back to others, and genuinely helping people in need rather than pursuing a high-flying corporate career. 

“Money will come and go, but it’s not important to me. In this role, I’m delivering real support for people.” 

Her job security has also enabled her to support family still living in Ukraine. 

“Supporting my family brings me so much joy. I sacrifice some privileges and needs but helping them is crucial because of the circumstances in Ukraine. My mum sacrificed a lot for me, so I am happy to be able to give back to her with love and grace.”

As for Ana’s future, there are many important experiences on the horizon, including further studies and travel, and perhaps even a homecoming one day. 

“There will be a moment when I need to go back home, to create something that will change people’s lives. It’s not a coincidence that I ended up in one of the best countries in the world with the opportunities and career growth I have had. I can’t waste it on a peaceful life – I will go back into the fire as soon as I am strong enough.” 

When reflecting on the jobs and experiences Ana has had in Australia, her advice to employers is clear: “Give chances to refugees. Don’t look at the person just on paper – have the discernment to see the inner person. Believe in that person and have faith in that person. It’s about having human insight, compassion and faith, and keeping an open mind.”  

“And for refugees and those in the same position I was in – don’t lock yourself up. Build your life here, dive into the culture. Push through the walls, knock down the doors and they will open. Find and ask, and it will be given.”  

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