EVERY cloud has a silver lining, as they say – even in refugee camps.
Just ask father-of-three Ezechial Ntirenganya.
He is among the hundreds of thousands of Burundians to flee conflict in his home country, escaping across the border to Tanzania in 2004.
It was there, in a crowded refugee camp, that he met his partner Corrine Ndayikeza. They fell in love and had their first child, Kevain, moving to Australia together when he was 2.
“It was hard to leave our lives and family members behind, but there has been conflict in Burundi for many years,” he says.
“Life is always a struggle there. People live day to day. But in Australia, there’s always an opportunity to make a life for yourself. There’s safety for all, and children can go to school and become whatever they want to become.”
But the rigours of settling in a foreign land and adapting to a new culture were not lost on the young family.
In just one example, he says they found it puzzling at first that people rarely knew their neighbours’ names.
“Where we come from, people are out on the streets socialising, talking to their neighbours and friends,” he says.
“But people coming here are surprised that the streets are so quiet. We are getting used to it.”
After ten years in Australia, life has come full circle.
He now helps other migrants, refugees and asylum seekers through settlement agency AMES Australia, a job he finds fulfilling.
“It’s really rewarding, paying back to others for what I have received,” he says.
He’s grateful for all the help extended to them, including from Sunshine Hospital where their two youngest were born.
The family is now preparing to welcome a sixth member into their Sunshine North home, a sibling for Kevain, now 12, Jospin, 3, and Jarrick, 2.
But they ended up in Sunshine Hospital a few weeks early recently for an unexpected overnight stay.
Kevain had an asthma attack, sending the family rushing to the Emergency Department’s pediatric service.
He was admitted overnight as a precaution but sent home with a clean bill of health.
Next time they return, it will be for a much happier reason.
The Greatest Need Project is an online story-sharing website with two major goals – to help patients facing significant hardship and disadvantage, and to facilitate research, at Western Health.
The Ntirenganya family is sharing their story in bid to help those at Western Health who need it most.
By making a donation on their behalf – and sharing the story on social media – you are making a difference too. Thank you.