Joblife’s Coffs Harbour Employment Consultant, Joseph Majambere, has an extraordinary background. Born in Burundi, a small country located in Central-East Africa, he was just 11 when civil war broke out in 1993. He lost his father in the war, but circumstances were so dire there was little chance to grieve.

Here is his story:

My family and I lived in a refugee camp for the next 14 years. Living in the refugee camp was extremely formidable and I experienced numerous times of hunger and starvation.

I often felt extremely scared and we did not feel safe. On many occasions we left our tents and slept in the forest, as we were in complete fear that killers would come during the night and murder us.

My mother became unwell and this became a normal state for my family. As the eldest child of my siblings, I assumed responsibilities and cared for my mother and my family. I grew up before my time and missed out on experiencing my childhood and adolescence.

As time and the years moved forward, I was familiar with this way of living and embraced my circumstances. Although I had no material possessions, I had great wealth in the love I shared with my family and the refugee community. In the camp I became a Youth Leader and encouraged children and teenagers to become involved in the Norwegian People’s Aid’s (NPA)  “Right to Play Program” (an NGO that established various activities to address needs of the refugee population such as emotional trauma; assisting people to maintain their health, hygiene and wellbeing; farming and knitting cooperatives to develop economic independence).

I also became involved in NPA’s ‘Coach to Coach Program’ (various sporting activities, for example, soccer, netball, marathons, rectangular jumps). Norwegian People’s Aid provided the opportunity for some play time, social interaction and teamwork for young people to enjoy and be part of in the camp. The work of the NPA achieved left a lasting impression upon me and was life-changing for me.

Ten years ago, my family and I arrived in Australia, unable to speak English and were settled in Coffs Harbour. This presented another totally different culture that I learnt to adapt to.

I found this to be very personally challenging as Australia has so much freedom. I had never previously been exposed to the level of freedom enjoyed in Australia and the diverse culture. I learnt to write and speak English. As I have grown, my confidence has increased and I’ve become more comfortable and familiar with the Australian way of life. The support I received in Australia is truly appreciated.

My family and I cherish living in Australia and we are blessed to call Coffs Harbour home. Australia is an amazing country, full of opportunities and hope and people are valued, a country where dreams can be accomplished, and where humanity has significance and meaning. I am married to a beautiful Australian lady and we have two gorgeous daughters. This year, I have enrolled externally in university studies. I am very happy in both my personal life and my working life.

I continuously find myself being an advocate for both the refugee community as well as the community as a whole, particularly those who are in need and can benefit from the sharing of my experiences.

I strongly seek for what I relate to as community justice – a community that serves its people in equal ways. I am passionate about supporting people from all backgrounds to become who they wish to be.

I encourage young people and others whom I work with to take part in their decision-making. I utilise reflective practice and when appropriate, share some of my experiences to assist others on their own journeys, to assist them to move forward.

I love seeing the outcomes of the clients and other people whom I support, as it’s really rewarding and makes me feel a valued member of my local community.

I chose to work in the Disability Employment Sector as I feel it is where I belong and where all of my life experiences have led me to.

My passion has always been about the community. I am a willing learner and offer to share my experiences with my fellow community members as I believe that by sharing we journey to better ourselves – becoming the best we can be for ourselves, for our loved ones and for the community that we are a part of and belong to.