Originally from the Congo, Ben and his family joined the millions of Congolese who fled their country fearing the violence that was destroying lives and livelihoods. Ben, Jacqueline and David arrived in Townsville in 2017.
The family is happy that Ben, who has a disability, is now receiving regular early intervention services, including Speech and Physiotherapy.
David says: “It’s really helpful because we don’t have to go to the services – actually they come here. This means at home we can do our things and the same time Benjamin is getting services, which is good for us.”
Jacqueline adds: “I think things are getting better and better for Benjamin. He goes to school. We get health services. But the most important thing is it’s very peaceful, you know, there is no war.”
David and Jacqueline have set up a church and there are services in their house three times a week. Jacqueline laughs when she says:
“When I was born, I was accustomed to getting a lot of people coming to our home. You know, we are people of the people. So, when I moved to Australia, it has been the same.”
To make people feel welcome David has the following tips:
“First thing we do when we meet new people – first of all, we greet them; ask their names and where they live and how they feel. We talk to them friendly, we make sure that for those who are in need of getting familiar with Townsville we help them with different services, helping to do shopping and getting around and making sure that they feel welcome.”
And Jacqueline adds:
“The first thing we do is we accept all people regardless of their origin, culture or race. When people come to our home, we let them feel free in terms of getting something. If people come here we let them go to fridge – we let them go and see for themselves. Just have a look! If there is food we welcome them and ask them to have food with us. Secondly we talk to them respectfully and make them feel welcome. And the third way is once someone decides to leave we actually accompany them from home to outside to make sure they feel like they want to come again.”
I acknowledge that my work is conducted on the land of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nations. I pay my respects to Elders past, present and future, for they hold the memories, traditions, Cultures and aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Sovereignty was never ceded.