SSI Student Minerva Girgis, 37, is studying childcare with us at h&h Accredited Training. She came to Australia after fleeing Sudan when she could no longer bear the daily persecution she and her family faced because her 17-year-old-son is Down Syndrome.

She came to h&h through Settlement Services International (SSI). SSI is an Australian Government funded organisation that assists refugees and asylum seekers settle into our country. It assists them to find homes and, like Minerva, become an SSI Student.

With SSI’s help, and the assistance and guidance of our Team Leader Sonia, Minerva enrolled in our Business course and now that she has finished that, she is studying Cert III Early Childhood Care and Education Course.

“There is no understanding or help for disabled children in Sudan,” she explains. “Some people would touch me in the street and even try to hurt us. At one time, we were even pushed out of the bus while it was moving, but my leg was caught, and we were dragged for over two kilometres. The driver would not stop. This kind of thing was happening to us all the time.”

It was at this point, Minerva and her husband decided they had no choice but to move to a safer place to raise their family (she and her husband also have another son who is 15). They applied for – and were able to secure – a Bridging VISA to live in Australia.

“We are so happy here now and both our sons are thriving at school. Our only dismay is that we have had to leave family there who are also ageing or infirm and have very little to no care. I just wish we could help them too.”

As an SSI Student, Minerva is intent on contributing and wants dearly to help others in need in the aged and/or disabled care sectors in Australia, too.

Her ambition and desire to give back to the country that has given her so much has motivated her to look at completing her Diploma in Early Childhood and Care, followed by Disabled and Aged Care, once she has finished her Cert III in ECEC.

“I love h&h,” she says with a smile. “I find my teacher Simmy to be so supportive. It has been hard at times with English being my second language and I have only been here for six months, but Simmy has been so very helpful with translation and teaching me the language. She listens to me and she really helps me. I love that we work as a group and we have really become such great friends in such a short space of time.

“I want to be able to care for all people who are vulnerable, but especially the disabled, given my personal background. I want to help with aged and disabled people in Sydney West Multicultural Care and Disability in Blacktown.”

“I am so happy in Australia,” she continues. “My son is going to a school for disabled children and he is thriving.  His English is getting better every day, which makes me so happy. In my country, I was not happy in the same way I am here. Here we are respected, and we have a life. Everyone I have met has been so helpful to us and I am so grateful, especially to everyone at h&h.”

As for the future, Minerva says one day, she would like to be running her own Aged Care centre and helping others as she and her family have been helped.

Find out more about h&h Aged Care courses

Find out more about h&h Disability Care Courses

Find out more about h&h Child Care Courses 

Find out more about SSI programmes and support