Big smiles for a brighter future

Posted March 14, 2023
Big smiles for a brighter future

The Home to School service helps refugee and recent migrant children to achieve their right to a quality education and the chance of a brighter future.

11-year-old Othni and little sister Eunice have big smiles. Even bigger than the challenges they’ve had to face in their short lives.

Like many girls their age Othni and Eunice are happiest when reading, drawing and playing with friends at school.

But it wasn’t always this way for them. Having left Sri Lanka in traumatic circumstances, they landed in Australia with mum, dad and baby sister. With little English or understanding of Australian culture, they found life in Perth hard.

Othni and Eunice have shown courage and resilience in meeting the challenges of settling in to their new life in WA. Credit: Dave Walters/Save the Children

“At first school was difficult. I didn’t know the language, and…it makes you feel embarrassed,” Othni says.

Unable to work, the young family also faced financial difficulties, struggling to feed the growing girls.

That’s where Kazim, who works with Othni and Eunice as their Home to School Family Support Specialist, was able to help.

With the generous support of Telethon, the Home to School service supports refugee and migrant families to settle in to life in Western Australia.

Depending on the situation, this may take the form of food and clothing, assistance to communicate with teachers, or supporting the children to catch up on foundation skills through a homework club. This gives the children a chance to develop confidence and succeed at school. The program is delivered by 54 reasons, which is part of the Save the Children Australia Group.

“We’re trying to help the child…get that quality education that they’re entitled to.” Kazim, Family Support Specialist with Home to School. Credit: Dave Walters/Save the Children

“At 54 reasons, we are focusing on the rights of children…in order to send the child back to school and provide a peaceful environment at home for the child, we have to sometimes help the entire family in order to make that happen”, Kazim says.

Othni explains that through the Home to School service, Kazim, “helped in getting new clothes for us for school. He has given us things like food…. and given us the courage to help make our family live happier.”

Kazim adds, “The best thing I love about this work, is you can see you can help someone…especially the children. The life of the family has changed and they’re ready to stand on their feet…you see them happy, and that makes me happy.”

Judging by the smiles on their faces, Othni and Eunice feel the same, and are already well on the way to a brighter future.

Seven-year-old Eunice hopes that other families like theirs can get the support that Home to School has given her family, as she says, “so they can have food too.”

Your generous support for Telethon will help fund the Home to School service to give children like Othni and Eunice the chance of a brighter future.