You are my special angel, sent from up above
When I turned on the television over the weekend it was to watch an old episode of Call the Midwife where a beloved character was farewelled by her scout group singing the song You are my Special Angel. This was a song my father played often on his harmonica; he always carried a harmonica in his pocket as he believed one needed to be surrounded by music no matter where you were.
With the song resonating in my ears, I have been surrounded by angels this week. Angels on television, stories of angels in the newspapers, leading news stories where angels have come out of the darkness to the aid of others. Whether it be cleaning up after a disaster, providing shelter, food, work, friendship or just a friendly ear – the angels were there to provide assistance.
And then today we received a thankyou note from CatholicCare for the parish’s support of asylum seeker and refugee families. Even our parish has proven to be an angel.
Deepdene and Balwyn Parish are now in their sixth year of partnership with CatholicCare and in this past year, our funding has helped significantly with varied support of many asylum seeker and refugee families experiencing some very difficult life circumstances. These families have typically lost employment during the extended lockdown months, been seriously at risk of losing their housing and relied on charitable donations and emergency relief to feed and care for their families.
The financial support given by Deepdene and Balwyn Parish has provided for a private rental of a 2-bedroom unit which currently houses an asylum seeker family of three adults. Our funding not only covered the rent but also pays for the utilities for the family. The family we are supporting were in crisis, living out of their car when the unit and funding became available. We have also supported a further three families with direct rent payments – a family of four in Ballarat, a family of five in Doveton and a family of three in Noble Park who also have a child with health issues requiring the mother to stay at home to provide care.
The Parish were also able to provide CatholicCare with two new laptops for asylum seekers studying, thus helping them to improve their access to employment pathways. One of the recipients has been studying for her Certificate III Aged Care. The study for this was largely online during the Covid lockdowns, so the laptop was very much appreciated and she is about to commence her placement to enable completion of her course.
The other laptop was given to a mother of four who is currently working in a factory to financially support her family as her husband is very ill. She is studying for her Certificate III Education Support online in the evenings, after work. This lady was a registered teacher in her home country, however her qualifications and experience are not recognised in Australia.
Material aid has also been provided in the way of regular vouchers from supermarkets as well as health and educational support of:
- The father of a family of five living in Box Hill was recovering from a serious illness which prevent him from working, our assistance saw the family through his recovery and he is now back in full time work.
- A family of two adults living in Sunshine both lost their jobs over the COVID lockdown months, with no income our support helped to provide food for the table.
- A young man living in Burwood with no income and suffering significant health issues following extended offshore and onshore detention required our help. CatholicCare were providing assistance with housing and payment of utilities and our parish assisted with providing food.
- Payment for medical visas for two single women, supporting the processes for their application for full protection visas.
- There are three asylum seeker students in Geelong who will be studying for Year 12 next year. Their dreams are to study medicine and engineering. CatholicCare is exploring how they may further support their specific study needs so their dreams may become a reality.
Thank you to all our parishioners for your generous support of the parish’s Asylum Seeker and Refugee Support project, as you see it is helping many not just in the local area but now across Victoria.
In the words of the song,
You are my special angel
I’ll have my special angel
Here to watch over me
For all those people we help, we are their special angel sent from up above.
By Kate Baines