Refugee’s journey from Liberia to Leda
AUSTRALIA THE LUCKY COUNTRY
IT is a long way from the UN camps in which she spent 13 years but former refugee Catherine Quiyea says buying her first home in Leda is testament to both hard work and the kindness of Australians.
After leaving her home country Liberia in 1990 at just 16 years old, Ms Quiyea spent more than a decade moving from camp to camp, hoping one day to start a new life in a country like Australia.
She once walked for three weeks from Sierra Leone to Guinea to reach safety, becoming separated from her parents along the way before arriving in a camp alongside thousands of others.
“Our life was in a camp where we didn’t have any hope for anything,” Ms Quiyea said. “We only survived on what we got from the UN on a monthly basis.
“In the refugee camp, it was not suitable for human beings.
“So today, having a home for myself is a joy, because I have been sleeping in tents.”
Ms Quiyea arrived in Australia in 2003, originally settling in Coolbellup with her then-husband and three children.
Now a single mother, Ms Quiyea said she will be eternally grateful to Australia and its people for giving her and her children a chance to lead a better life.
“My children, they all finished high school,” she said. “I didn’t even think they were going to have that opportunity because in the refugee camp, the UN only have a school to Year 6.
“Australia has given them a good future so that’s why I want to thank the Australian people.”
From the moment she set foot on Australian soil, Ms Quiyea said she was determined to repay the life-changing chance she received.
Starting her working life as a cleaner at the Esplanade Hotel in Fremantle, Ms Quiyea began studying aged care at Tafe and has now worked in the industry for the past two years.
“Coming to Australia, when I came here, if I held out my hand and depended on what Centrelink I was getting, I wouldn’t have a place to call home,” she said.
“I know I need to work to help the country so that it can be able to help other people.”
Ms Quiyea said she was grateful for the kindness and faith shown by Australians.
“When I arrived, there were people actually waiting to help us,” she said. “It is a welcoming country.
“I appreciate the help I got from the Australian people to be able to come here and have a better future. By the grace of God, we find ourselves in a place we call home today.”
Catherine Quiyea is thankful for the chance to own her own home in Leda.