NELLEN champions speak – The challenge of adult life

Meet our latest blogger, a young man from a refugee background who is achieving his aspirations

My name is Sylva Mwala. I am 23 years old and from a refugee background. I came to Australia on a humanitarian visa in 2016 after living in a refugee camp in Malawi. Since I arrived in Australia, I have been studying at Wodonga TAFE. I started with English classes and now I am in my last year of the Diploma of Community Services.

In my teenage years, I had a dream to help people who are less fortunate than I am, but I was lacking experience and professional requirements. My dream started to come true when I decided to study Community Services at Wodonga TAFE. I chose to study at Wodonga TAFE because it’s one of the largest education providers in Victoria and offers a good quality of education.

I have enjoyed every unit of my studies. Human rights and mental health classes stole my attention. I was very surprised to learn how everyone is entitled to human rights and needs to be respected, and how people affected with mental health issues are cared for and respected which is completely different from where I come from. I am very lucky to have come to Australia and very happy that my rights and needs are being respected and I am being treated fairly.

To me, family comes first, and my family is very supportive of every decision I make. Everyone in my family supports me in my studies including my uncle, who lives in the UK. I also play soccer and work. I try to balance my time so that I can enjoy everything I have chosen.

I work at Wodonga Regional Distribution Centre in Barnawartha. I am happy to work there because it’s helping to keep my body healthy and strong, and I am earning money to support my personal life and my family. I have enjoyed working for Woolworths because everyone is supportive and team leaders remind workers how to behave in the workplace through ongoing online modules.

So far, I have achieved a lot within a short period of time, and I am proud of my achievements. I am still following my dream of helping people who are less fortunate than I am, and education is my weapon to make my dream come true.