My name is Angie and I am from Manizales in Colombia. It is a very hilly city, near a volcano in the centre of Colombia, within the coffee growing region. I came to Australia in 2011 to follow my dreams. I was working in a UN-funded project and needed to learn English to support my professional role. While here I met and married an Australian and decided to stay. I became an Australian citizen in 2015.
What do you miss most about your home country?
I really miss being able to express myself in my first language (Spanish). I miss all the special ways we communicate non-verbally in Colombia and expressing humour the Colombian way! I miss all my friends from Colombia and the tight-knit community and social networks from my first home. And, I miss to share those special moments with my family, hanging out with old friends and the laughter when we are together. Of course, I miss the Colombian food, fruits and the street vendors.
What is your favorite thing about Australia?
I really appreciate this country’s politeness and courtesy to strangers. There is an overall sense of safety here. I feel welcome in Australia as a new migrant. I enjoy all the new opportunities and experiences living in Melbourne. I am impressed with the generosity of organisations and people in Australia. Also, I appreciate the level of honesty and openness of people. I like the “no worries” attitude of many Australians. I am amazed at the way may people are prepared to give back and to help others within the Australian culture.
What do you do for the Refuge of Hope?
I provided leadership, guidance and mentoring to a small team of keys support staff and volunteers within the Latin American program. As a Social Worker, l love the grassroots aspect of our work, directly supporting people in with many different needs. l wear many hats in my day to day role, from media spokesperson, community advocate, events management, public speaking and most importantly supporting people.
I feel a great sense of honour and privilege to serve the Latin American community in Melbourne. As a new migrant myself, l understand firsthand the struggles of settlement in a new place.
What does the Refuge of Hope mean to you?
Refuge of Hope means to me a community of people where are both a home away from home and a new start together. It provides me a means to serve others both in tangible and non-tangible ways. As a new migrant, it allows me to use my professional skills in my new home. I feel honoured to support other new migrants like me to make a happy and healthy adjustment to a new life in Australia.
What is the best thing about the Refuge of Hope?
The best thing of ROH is providing a culturally relevant service to meet a huge need of many people, sometimes feeling lost and lonely in a new place. Seeing the smile on the faces of people and their expression of gratitude makes it all worthwhile for me.
To serve others in little or big ways, to help overcome adversity is what makes me happy and is my passion. I like seeing people become settled and feel at home in Melbourne, because of our service to them.