For Congolese refugee Anna and her family, arriving in Australia was the end of years of torment.

During her wait, widowed Anna and her family of five children have endured incredible hardship and genuine fear for their lives as they struggled to survive in awful conditions in Congo, where she was the victim of unspeakable events that made her family the target of an assassination attempt, and her daughter was kidnapped. Despite this suffering, her application was rejected twice by Australia. Her email on July 26, 2005 said “I passed through the desert, dry land where there is no food, no water, my so called life has been miserable but now my life is worse – they have rejected me and my needy children for a second time. Now my life has no meaning, no future, no hope………”

We decided to try sponsoring them again, and promised not to give up, then – a miracle! This time she was called for an interview at the Australian High Commission, and after medicals, received the wonderful news that the family had finally been granted a visa for Australian Permanent residence! Rockhampton Sanctuary group were keen to settle the family and raised the money to provide an interest-free airfare loan, and booked their flight, departing Feb 2, 2007.

But their pre-departure X-rays showed a possible health problem for daughter Caroline….they were not allowed to leave on the flight to Australia. Anna fell into despair. She had given away their few meager possessions – what now?! Rockhampton Sanctuary group decided to transfer some money to Kenya so they could find a room to stay, as they waited for the designated three month term, but as time dragged on, still no news about permission to leave for Australia. Anna felt hopeless……but after much lobbying from Sanctuary members here , they finally got good news and left for Brisbane, 6 months after the original flight date.

It was an amazing and emotional moment when they arrived at Brisbane airport! (ABC Compass film crew were among the greeters!) It has been a long road for Anna and her family, but they now have a future, with love and help from the Sanctuary community. After a big welcome in Rockhampton, Sanctuary assisted them with housing, school, Medicare, Centrelink, English classes, etc.

Annas son Michael, 20, expressed his excitement at the opportunity to begin his new life in such a great place. “I am so happy to be here and overwhelmed by how wonderful everyone has been,” he said.

Anna’s sons, Michael, 20, and Henri, 18, have already had offers of work and are keen to start their new lives in Rockhampton, while the girls, Caroline 17, Tabita, 15 and Grace, 10, are now enrolled in school.

Sanctuary is a multi-award winning Charity, run with the utmost integrity, carefully giving direct assistance to refugees in real need. Every donation makes a real difference.