The first impression I had of Australia and its people is wow. I didn't know anyone. I landed at night and just saw this many lights. It looked like heaven. This beautiful Ethiopian lady, who I still called my Aussie mum, came and talked to me and she took me in, although she didn't know me. So my impression was a country with open people. And for sure, now what I know today, I can still say the same.
The challenges that I found in Australia is people are not talking to me. Back home, everybody stops to talk to you, and here nobody was talking to me. I was living in an apartment, which had 15 apartments, and no one talked to me. I challenged them by putting a card under their door and wishing them a happy Christmas, Merry Christmas. They all started talking to me. They invited me to their homes. What Australians don't know. They don't know how to offer information. They wait to be asked. But how can I ask a question I don't know? If I see you need something, I'll tell you. I don't have to wait for you to ask me. That's the challenges I found. People not giving information freely.
The main challenges I see with the migrant and the refugee women is not having community. Here you come alone. If you are lucky, you come with your family of maybe two, three. That's the only people you have. So we missed that a lot. Like when I came this country, I was alone. So I had to look for my family, a family here. And that's how I started volunteering. And I started visiting people at the nursing home. Many people also come without language. Language is the hardest. 'Cause you cannot communicate if you don't have the language. So it's very challenging with employment. And you'll find somebody with even a master's or even PhD driving an Uber. Not because they want to drive that Uber, but they want to put the bread on table for their children.
I support women who are lonely, who have no jobs, who have no tomorrow. I support them to give them back their confidence, to give them that light that they don't have. Once you educate a woman, you have educated a whole village. And that woman you've given information and empowered will empower other women. And that's why I go out there, connect them with the jobs, connect them with the social groups, connect them with the GPs, even walk with them if they cannot walk where they're supposed to walk. I support that woman, my job is done. I have helped the husband, the children and even the neighbours.
I'm calling all the Australians, near and far, to open their hearts, to open their homes, to know their neighbours. Get out there and know your neighbour. There will be everyone talking to each other. Walk across the road, go and talk to that woman who wears a hijab, that man who doesn't speak English, those kids, which are running up and down. Share with the person who is cooking, maybe a barbeque. And you can imagine a whole street party. If everybody is happy, depression is gone, crime is gone, and we'll be the first country to be a happy country.
How do you get to know your neighbour? You can just go across the road and just say, "Hello." Your neighbour is not just the one next to you. Your neighbour can be all your community. Your neighbour can be that person who you know doesn't have anyone, especially the seniors. A neighbour is that person from a different culture. You'd love to know about their culture. Learn about that migrant who is next door to you. That refugee. Let us not just think what have they come to take from us? Let us change our thinking. In this country, we have a lot that we can share. We want to learn about this beautiful country that we have come here. And through all that, we build a very strong community with a sense of belonging.
So go out there and get to know your neighbour.