TRUE STORIES: Joseph Majambere – Supporting people from all backgrounds to become who they wish to be.
Joseph is a Support Planner (Case Manager) with Community Care Options (CCO) in Coffs Harbour, NSW
I was born in Burundi, a small country located in Central-East Africa. In 1993, at 11 years of age, civil war broke out in my country – I lost my father as a result of the war and due to survival needs, our family was unable to grieve for him. My family and I lived in a refugee camp for the following 14 years. Living in the refugee camp was extremely formidable, adjusting to a new way of living, I experienced numerous times of hunger and starvation. I often felt extremely scared and we did not feel safe. On many occasions we left our tents and slept in the forest, as we were in complete fear that killers would come during the night and murder us.
My mother became unwell and this became a normal state for my family. As the eldest child of my siblings, I assumed responsibilities and cared for my mother and my siblings. I grew up before my time and missed out on experiencing my childhood and adolescence. As time and the years moved forward, I was familiar with this way of living and embraced my circumstances – although I had no material possessions, I had great wealth in the love I shared with my family and the refugee community.
In the camp, I became a Youth Leader and encouraged children/teenagers to become involved in the Norwegian People’s Aid’s (NPA) ’Right to Play Program’ (a NGO that established various activities to address needs of the refugee population such as emotional trauma; assisting people to maintain their health, hygiene and well-being; farming and knitting cooperatives to develop economic independence); and becoming involved in NPA’s ‘Coach to Coach Program’ (various sporting activities, for example, soccer, netball, marathons, rectangular jumps) – Norwegian People’s Aid provided the opportunity for some play time, social interaction and teamwork for young people to enjoy and be part of in the camp. The work NPA achieved left a lasting impression upon me and was life-changing for me.
Ten years ago, my family and I arrived in Australia, unable to speak English and were settled in Coffs Harbour. This presented another totally different culture that I learnt to adapt to. I found this to be very personally challenging as Australia has so much freedom, I had never previously been exposed to the level of freedom enjoyed in Australia and the diverse culture. I learnt to write and speak English. As I have grown, my confidence has increased and I’ve become more comfortable and familiar with the Australian-way-of-life. The support I received in Australia is truly appreciated.