Client and community member Salwa, reflects on her journey to Australia, her ideas for a multi-faith reflection and prayer room at our East Reservoir health centre – and seeing it launched this month.
I arrived in Australia six years ago. I used to be in my country a high school physics and chemistry teacher for 25 years. I came here because of the crazy civil war in Syria. At first I wasn’t happy, I left my home and family and I was scared for reasons like I don’t know English, no friends, no family. It was very difficult for me.
I couldn’t contact anyone except my family. I didn’t know how to live in Australia and felt I had no future here. A few months later, I came to the Red Cross to start my first English and gardening lessons. Through the horticulture course I was introduced to Sister Lina Hassan (she is a Refugee Liaison worker) and her social group at Your Community Health.
She is a wonderful woman, she provided us with guidance, assistance and responsiveness as we learned how to reach our goals. If we wanted to make changes, she would explain what we should do to make it happen. She changed our lives for the better in helping us to make friends and adapt to life in Australia. We became regulars at this friendly community health centre.
The Reflection Room idea came when I used to wait to see a doctor with my husband Mohamed and many other clients. We used to ask permission from Lina to kindly allow us to use her room and her prayer rug on Thursday and Friday to perform the prayer on time. There is a mosque for prayer adjacent to the building of this centre, but it opens its doors to receive worshipers at specific and limited times on Friday only, which did not coincide with the times of visiting the specialized doctors at Your Community Health centre.
The other reason was, at several times when waiting to see a doctor, some patients who waited for some time to see their specialist doctor, they were in a state of tension and anxiety because of their own health conditions. Whether sick or nervous, we saw this to be a situation where they might need privacy and a quiet place to wait.
We were advised by Lina to write our feedback in our preferred language through the suggestions form and to put it in the box in front of the reception. She told us the team of management would discuss these matters with us in strict confidence, they are very cooperative with every humanitarian request, and they will understand the issue in a positive way and welcome it. So we did.
After few days we received a phone call from the management team agreeing to all suggestions! This is an example of the good service, listening to us as clients. They have a very humane feeling towards all their clients, it is a reflection of the important relations and the willingness to put a request for diversity into action.
Today, I am feeling very pleased at the launch of the reflection and prayer room at Your Community Health. To us, the refugees and members of the community who suggested in the first place, it is a special and delightful event. The religious leaders were invited to take part, and everything was done perfectly. Inside the room were gifts from clients and supporters, such as religious symbols and amulets of different affiliations. My husband Mohammad donated and made of wood a chair to put the Holy Quran on it in a distinctive way.
We thank you all for your good humanity and support for the multi-ethnic culture of our beautiful country Australia. We are thankful for the centre’s management and staff. And now we can see this wonderful Reflection Room.
You will find the Reflection Room on your right as you enter our East Reservoir health centre. You can use it at any time.