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Thank you, Australia ... we want to be able to give something back

By Sofia Verlasco Perez - posted Monday, 15 October 2001


I came to Australia from El Salvador 10 years ago. Together with my family we came under the Humanitarian Program, refugee settlement program when I was 14 years old. My country went through a very hard period of war in 1989, which created a lot of hardship on my family. We experienced a time when there was no water, food or electricity and with nine members in my family the daily life experiences got worse. Especially the war experiences and the fear we all went through.

Coming to Australia, I believe, was probably the most difficult decision my parents ever had to make. Even though I had no choice it was also very painful for me to have to leave my country. We did not have any relatives or friends in Australia and we did not speak any English at all. This was only the beginning of many of the difficulties I had to face through the settlement period which many migrants and especially refugees, if not the majority, have to face.

However, looking back over the last ten years, coming to Australia was the best decision we ever made. I went to high school right through to year 12 with high achievement, which required a lot of dedication and willingness. Then I was accepted to Queensland University of Technology, and four years later graduated with a Bachelor degree in Social Science. In between my studies I married and now have a three-year-old girl, and I am currently expecting my second child.

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For the past year, I have been working as the Multicultural Support Worker for the Sunshine Coast Region. Also, my brother has graduated as a building Inspector engineer and is happily working in his field.  All my sisters are also currently studying, some in high school and others in TAFE. My father is working and my mother is actively involved in many community events. Although, I love my country and I love my culture, our food, music etc. I can certainly say that I call Australia home, and I am very grateful for what I have received from this country, and feel happy that I can give something back to the Australian community.

I believe one of the common attitudes of many migrants and refugees who come to Australia is the desire to work hard and to get on with life and to progress and achieve. We want to be able to give something back to all the people that have helped us here in Australia and contribute positively to the community.

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