When Elaha* was seven, her parents made the heartbreaking decision to send her to live in India so she could enjoy a more free life than in her native country. Growing up in a foster care home away from her family, Elaha always made an extra effort with her education as she felt that would help to justify her parents’ sacrifice.
Fast forward to September this year and Elaha was on the stage at the inaugural SSI Mosaic Gala talking about the important role education has played in her life.
After completing a university degree in India, Elaha had been halfway through her master’s degree when she was granted a humanitarian visa, giving her a permanent home in Australia. With the help of SSI, she is now in the final year of her degree and looking forward to graduating next year.
Over a night of entertainment, food and music, the SSI Mosaic Gala raised funds for SSI programs that help people like Elaha to overcome the barriers to achieving their full potential in the areas of education and employment.
Guests enjoyed a degustation menu featuring cuisines from around the world while learning about the important work SSI does to support refugees.
Master of ceremonies, Sunil Badami, managed a full program of entertainment, including traditional dance and musical performances, a speech from an entrepreneur supported by SSI and a keynote presentation by Magda Szubanski.
SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis said Elaha’s story showed the incredible impact everyday Australians can make in the lives of refugees.
“Initiatives such as educational scholarships or our Ignite Small Business Start-ups initiative put refugees on a level playing field with those of us who have been lucky enough to grow up in a country that is free from war and persecution,” she said.
“Thanks to the incredible efforts of the volunteers, staff, supporters and donors who contributed to the SSI Mosaic Gala, we can support more people like Elaha to live independent, fulfilling lives, where there are no barriers to achieving their full potential.”
Special thanks go to Verve Portraits, Humble Creatives, Blue Water Sailing, Amy Basnett Art, Pan Macmillan Australia, Turtle Beach Resort, Nikon, Carla Zampatti, Naomi Hamilton Photography, CKT Family Trust, The Star, Happy Buddha Retreat, BIG4 Holiday Parks, Jenolan Caves, World Apartments, Mineralism, Latin Dance Australia, Bluegums Cabins, Taronga Zoo, Belvoir, and Sydney Theatre Co.
*Elaha’s name has been changed for privacy reasons.