Kassim* is one of some two million non-permanent residents not entitled to government subsidies, having arrived with his wife and two young sons from the Middle East six years ago on a working visa.
A leading scientific researcher and educator in renewable energy, Kassim worked at a university until the day they were deemed non-essential services and were suddenly closed.
“COVID-19 meant no jobs. I was working with the university in a couple of positions but once they closed, I no longer had an income,” said Kassim.
“I immediately applied to different universities. No one could hire me. I’ve been happily working and now everything crashed.”
Kassim had supplemented his income with a ride share service in the past, but that service also stopped. He sold his car to pay rent.
“I used money from the car for rent and food. Then I have just$360 left to survive on for how long? And I don’t know what to do. Do I pay the rent or buy food?” said Kassim.
“I couldn’t stop thinking about my kids at school without food to eat. I couldn’t sleep. For three nights in a row I lay awake worrying about my family.”
A neighbour asked Kassim how he was doing, and on his honest response put Kassim in touch with BaptistCare HopeStreet.
As Australia continues to face down the challenges caused by COVID-19 in our communities and our homes, BaptistCare HopeStreet has received a dramatic increase in calls for assistance.
In March, over double the amount of calls were received than the month prior. In April, that number increased five-fold. During these two months there was an 84% increase in the number of food parcels the non-government organisation provided.
“Without the support from HopeStreet, we wouldn’t be able to eat. We benefit so much from the food and packages,” said Kassim.
“It’s not just the food, you feel you are no longer lonely in Australia. You feel like someone cares about you. They look after us as we are - from a different background, a different culture - even in the food they provide. They see you as a person, as a human, and they look after you.”
“Once we received the food, I had the longest sleep. I felt safe and secure that someone was looking after me and my family.”
This crisis will not last forever. There’s hope that soon people like Kassim will return to work as normal. But what of those for whom normal was never a safe place?
Winter months bring their own levels of anxiety and stress to vulnerable people and families, and the COVID-19 crisis only adds more uncertainty. Join us in providing food and hope in our communities. Donate now.