‘A life back on track’: Akanke’s story

A young African-born woman Akanke* stumbled upon McAuley House when she came to Melbourne, lost and alone. This is her story in her own words:

‘The McAuley House was a God-sent help for me. I left Wodonga due to family issues and not being able to find employment there. I came to Melbourne in search of employment which I found within a week. However I had no stable place to stay as I was jumping from couch to couch.

One night I was unable to find a place to stay as my plans had fallen through that night and I was stuck in Footscray. As I was walking and crying out of defeat I stumbled across a green house that offered refuge for women without a place to stay. I hesitated to ring the bell because I wasn’t an Australian citizen so I thought they wouldn’t help me and I was also embarrassed of how bad I had let my situation get.

As I hesitated to ring the bell a lady came out and I asked what the purpose of the building was and she confirmed that it was indeed a place for women in need of help. At the time I didn’t know what I needed: I just knew I needed a place to stay the night so I could go back the next day and collect the rest of my luggage. I told my story and in my mind I really didn’t know how she could help me, but she really listened to what my urgent needs was, and not wants. She organised a two-way return ticket from Melbourne to Albury-Wodonga and money to buy clothes as I was wearing ripped clothes.

I really didn’t know what I wanted at the moment but my needs were met beyond my expectations. With that act of kindness I was able to settle in Melbourne the next week, I had more time to sort out my stay when I returned to Melbourne.

I sadly lost my job and I felt helpless again.

I called the McAuley House and they set up a meeting with me the same afternoon. They drove to my location and they bought me hot chocolate and made me feel comfortable. They gave me hope knowing that I wasn’t doing this by myself and that they would support me with getting my CV up and running to attract more jobs.

Within a week I retrieved a full time job and six interviews from the CV they assisted me with. The McAuley House was my support system, and with their help I was able to become independent and stable.

My new job was with an interpreting company. While I was there I received numerous calls from McAuley House booking interpreters to help other women get on their feet.

It was always emotional speaking with them because that’s where I started off as well. I am and will be forever grateful to McAuley for helping me get my life back on track. ‘