Joel Khemis Musa arrived in Australia in 2009. Originally from Sudan, his family escaped civil war and spent much of their time living in different refugee camps in Uganda, before they were granted a Visa and arrived in Melbourne’s west.
When Joel first arrived in Australia, he found it a struggle to fit in.
“The most difficult aspect of my arrival to Australia was emerging into the Australian culture. I had no background of education in Uganda due to war and poverty so when I arrived I didn’t know how to interact with people, and was very much isolated from a lot of things.”
Despite clear talent and motivation, Joel said he has encountered discrimination along the way, but with the help of his local church he has been able to navigate his new home.
“Through the church I made some friends who were supportive and throughout the years I was able to quickly adapt to the Aussie culture. Some of the common challenges which I found much humour in, was the food here. For at least two weeks we struggled with the food and thought it was the weirdest thing of all time. However, we really love and enjoy the food now.”
Joel received his first Western Chances Scholarship in 2012 and has received a total of 6 scholarships. The support from the organisation has allowed him to focus on his studies, and be less concerned about his financial security.
“Western Chances have had a huge impact on my education in terms of financial support. I was working two jobs to support my education, family and myself financially. However this changed when Western Chances began supporting me. It helped me switch my focus from work to focusing on my studies and achieving my goals.”
While Joel’s upbringing has been difficult, he has used his own personal challenges as the inspiration for his new found career as a support worker. He recently completed an internship with Diaspora Action Australia and has been working with Wyndham youth Services as a youth support worker for the past three years.
“I think growing up disadvantaged and not having anyone to look up to has shaped me as a person to become somebody who young people can look up to,” he says, adding “Working with young people in the last three years has probably been one of the most rewarding things I’ve done. It is a blessing to be able to support a young person in need and witness young people become who they aspire to be.”
Even though Joel’s internship has come to an end, he is still active in the community and is involved in Wyndham City Council’s Youth program.
Like many of our scholarship recipients, he has big dreams for the future.
“After I graduate my ultimate goal is to hopefully work with foreign affairs or be a refugee advocate. In the next year or two my goal is to build a library back home for young people who are growing up as I did. This project has been my goal for quite some time and it’ll be great initiative to the community and the youth who are very determined to learn.”
We are incredibly proud of what Joel has achieved since arriving in Australia and look forward to continuing to support him throughout his journey.
If you would like to support other young people like Joel, you can become a Big Dreams donor from as little as $10 a month.
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