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Getting my life back again

Getting my life back again

Getting my life back again

Karin, centre, with Salvos officer Major Allan Morrison, and financial counsellor Tracey.

By Karin

I migrated to Australia from South Africa many years ago. I had been working in social services there. In Melbourne, I volunteered as a case manager with the Salvos and was then offered different jobs as soon as I could be employed. These included case manager roles and working for the Salvos Employment Plus.

Different organisations ‘head hunted’ me, and I had case manager and marketing jobs that involved working with those who had breached the law and helping people with disabilities and victims of discrimination. Assisting people in life and helping them feel good about themselves has always been my ambition.

When I first left South Africa in the late 1990s, my young sons were organised to follow me. I had to go through courts to find them and eventually have them returned to me. It was an extremely long, lonely, and difficult time. I was struggling with my emotions, working two jobs and studying for a learning and development degree. The only way I could deal with my pain and agony was to keep busy. I didn’t tell anyone what I was going through, as I was afraid of being looked down on.

I finally got my kids back, and they attended my university graduation. We were so happy to be together.

Volunteering for The Red Shield Appeal.

One of my next roles was working in human resources and payroll. There was a lot of bullying, and I was moved on to training and management roles in other areas.

One day at work in 2014, I fell, broke my nose, and sustained other injuries, including cognitive and memory issues and a permanent disability. My employer wouldn’t grant WorkCover payments, although they did pay my medical bills. I was told to use my superannuation and income protection until I was 65. I had a brain injury and was put into administration roles that didn’t suit my aptitudes and abilities.

I was struggling financially, emotionally, and in so many ways. I didn’t know what to do, and it seemed like every time I tried something, I couldn’t do that either. 

Confidence regained

Centrelink put me in contact with Tracey, a financial counsellor at The Salvation Army’s Moneycare program at Boronia Salvos. 

I met with Tracey and explained that I wanted to get back into work and or study and turn my life around. She helped me with my finances, budgeting, and planning. She also introduced me to Majors Allan and Glenda Morrison, the Boronia Salvos officers.

They suggested I become a volunteer, and, after interviews and some COVID-19 delays, I began organising the files and doing some client work in community engagement. It was my first attempt back at my professional life. It was scary as I hadn’t done it for seven years, but after I got some good outcomes for my first client, it felt like my confidence was coming back.

The Salvos genuinely care and want to help and are always there for people. After my mother died in South Africa, I could only attend her funeral on Zoom and was down about it. The Salvos were lovely. They reached out to me and made me feel loved and special. I can now trust people again. 

I am now open to anything and feel stronger with every day that comes. I want to give in a way that helps others. I continue to serve in case management and in the Hub with food parcels, delivery, and emergency relief. I am also getting involved with the church. I just love what I do.

The missing piece

I had always gone to church before but had given it up over the last seven years. It’s a part of my life I have missed. I wanted to join a church when I first came to Australia, but as a single parent, I had to work on weekends. And then the accident really slowed me down.

I felt like I belonged with the Salvos, and I am planning to become an official member of the church.

My faith is extremely important. As I prepare now for Easter, I think of Jesus dying for us so we can be reborn. It’s an emotional but hopeful time for me. I am so grateful for his sacrifice and what it means for me. Jesus saved me then, and today is helping me get my life back.

There is still a lot I can do, and I am doing what I want to do with the Salvos. They don’t just do things; they make things happen and equip people to get where they want to go. 



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