Pride. If there is one word you can use to encapsulate Beka’s* spirit, it’s pride.
“I want to be the best. I’m a fighter, I never give up on things. Even when there are challenges I never give up on things. I will always give my best, my all.”
From the moment Beka sits down to discuss her journey with ASRC Cleaning and an exciting new opportunity for work experience, it’s immediately clear that she is indeed a fighter.
In 2016 Beka left her home country of Papua New Guinea and made the journey to Australia alone to seek safety, and begin the slow and frustrating process of applying for protection. In 2017 she found her way to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) in search of vital services, and some much needed support.
A new journey
Throwing herself into the ASRC community through multiple volunteer roles, it was evident that here was a woman determined to not only give back to the organisation that helped her, but who would stop at nothing to regain her independence and stand on her own two feet.
After being referred to ASRC Cleaning as a candidate for employment, Beka began a year long journey with the social enterprise, an opportunity that has led to a fantastic outcome - an offer for paid work experience with Western Program Alliance (as part of the Level Crossing Removal Project), one of ASRC Cleaning’s major commercial customers.
‘I did domestic cleaning. With domestic cleaning, I think my customers always trusted me and left their keys for me to go and work at their place when they were at work or had holidays overseas. I think if you can be honest in doing little things wholeheartedly, it reflects or brings out the best that you have, and I believe there are some beautiful souls out there that can’t let this go unnoticed. I guess being committed to little things pays off.
‘One of the cleaning jobs I was booked to do was with Western Program Alliance and I started doing it in 2018.’
For Beka, her commitment and proactive attitude certainly paid off.
Experiencing rapid growth in early 2019, the Western Program Alliance operations team began looking for a short term temp to assist in setting up the expanding premises. Beka’s work ethic and enthusiasm had been noticed, and it wasn’t long before she was approached with the opportunity to join the team to gain some corporate administration experience.
The chance to join the Level Crossing team as a short-term Administration Assistant may, to many, seem like a limited opportunity. But for someone seeking asylum like Beka, it’s these breaks that they fight so hard for, and that can quite literally change lives.
See, like all of our cleaners, Beka left not only her country, but her life.
‘I was a teacher back in my country and since I’m on a Bridging Visa A I’m not eligible for any Subsidy VET (Victorian Education and Training) courses. If I was on a different visa I could just do a Tafe course [to have her teaching qualifications recognised in Australia]. So that’s the thing, I can’t do it. Even though I have the potential, I can’t do it.
‘So I just kept working with Cleaning then I saved my money and did a Certificate III in aged care, but unfortunately that certificate wouldn’t guarantee me some work...I kept applying and was unsuccessful.’
‘This opportunity just changed me, I had so many troubles going through depression, thinking about this and that...and you know, coming back to myself. I’m a professional teacher back in my country you know, I’ve got a degree in education but now I can’t teach here. Now I’m just somebody else in here, just doing cleaning, and that’s not what you were, you know? That’s not who you were back in your country. And getting back to this job now I think oh, it’s bringing out that good. I feel like it’s a relief for me.’
Sharing the success
Sharing this success with Beka is immensely rewarding for the ASRC Cleaning team. This is the point of our social enterprises. To create opportunities for people seeking asylum to find a way back to themselves, to recognise within themselves the parts of their identity that are lost when they leave their lives behind to seek safety.
For Beka, this opportunity symbolises yet another step on the road to redefining herself and forging a future of meaningful contribution. In addition to tirelessly working for ASRC Cleaning, Rebecca relentlessly pursues any opportunity to upskill and give back to the community she has gained so much from.
‘I volunteer for ASRC’s Women’s Empowerment Program, and through that took part in a WEstjustice program of employment law, which the ASRC employment program recommended for me. It went for eleven weeks and was a train the trainer program. I did two presentations with the women’s empowerment program and would love to come back and teach the new migrants, the women, about employment laws.’
With plans to rejoin the ASRC community and support new migrants to navigate their rights in the workplace, a volunteer reception role greeting members of the ASRC’s Innovation Hub with a beaming smile, and this fantastic opportunity to gain invaluable work experience; Beka is proving time and time again that yes, she is a fighter. And for our Cleaning team and employment support, there is only one word that can encapsulate the feeling of witnessing Beka’s journey.
UPDATE: It is with even MORE pride that we can congratulate Beka on being offered an ongoing role in the administration team at Western Program Alliance. Beka’s inspiring work ethic and approach to this opportunity has blown us all away.
*name has been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.
Find out how you can help create true impact for people seeking asylum like Beka. Explore our range of Domestic Cleaning and Commercial Cleaning Services and talk to us about a service that’s right for you, and help us make change in the process.