Abouk's Story

I can see dramatic changes

Over the time I have been coming to Foundation House, I can see dramatic changes in me.

Four years ago, I went back home to South Sudan to visit my family. While I was there the war broke out and it was very hard when I came back to Australia.

I was referred to Foundation House. I wasn’t settling in. I was emotionally distracted and having very disrupted sleep. I would never go out. I would never go into the city.

If I saw police, I would get so scared. I know they are there to protect us here, but when I saw police I would just panic and think that they are the people that killed people back home.

So I came to Foundation House and got some counselling. I was also introduced to massage. It was all so new to me. But now I love coming here.

She made it so comfortable for me

What made it even more welcoming for me was the fact that Joyce, my counsellor advocate, was Sudanese.

I didn’t have to explain certain things to her. She knew what was going on in Sudan. She made it so comfortable for me. There were things that I simply couldn’t explain in English, but I could say them in Arabic and she understood.

It takes time

My flatmate also notices the changes in me. She sees me use oils, take gentle showers, put on music. She knows these strategies will help me work through things.

It has taken time, but bit by bit Foundation House has taught me how to get myself back.

They saw me

Before Sudan was divided, we from South Sudan simply didn’t have the opportunity to walk into a library, borrow a book and then bring it back. We were not allowed to do that. We could look, or we could buy, but we could not have a membership. We were not trusted with that.

My mother used to buy me second-hand books and I would read those books, over and over, so that I literally memorised large pieces of text from them.

When I came to Australia, I would go to the library, borrow books, and read and read. More than anything this was a way to improve my English. I’d always finish books before the return date.

I loved reading people’s personal stories, what they went through, and how they overcame their personal challenges and problems. Those stories motivated me so much.

I remember when I got the study grant at Foundation House. I knew what it would mean to my life. I know that I would not have come so far without that help. Now I’ve completed a Bachelor of Health Science. I majored in health promotion.

I know I have changed so much as a person. I remember the celebration on the day I received that award. There was music and there was food. I remember my name being called out. I was overjoyed. Somebody was giving me a chance.

They were saying, ‘You deserve this’ and they acknowledged my hard work. Getting that study grant changed everything for me. It felt like they saw me.

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