Refugee’s jour­ney from Liberia to Leda


Cockburn Gazette - - BUSINESS -

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.”

Pic­ture: Jon Hew­son­mu­ni­ d450365

Cather­ine Quiyea is thank­ful for the chance to own her own home in Leda.

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