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Diversity and Inclusion series: Emmanuel's story

3 March 2020

There were the nay-sayers, the doubters, those that said Emmanuel Mathias would never live independently.
He proved them wrong.

Welcome to our special series celebrating Diversity and Inclusion in MercyCare’s employees, volunteers and service users. Our stories are accompanied by Steve Wise’s remarkable photographs, that show how these ordinary, yet extraordinary, people are individually effecting change for themselves and the people around them. We hope you enjoy their personal stories.

Emmanuel Mathias - MercyCare Disability Services User

There were the nay-sayers, the doubters, those that said Emmanuel Mathias would never live independently.

He proved them wrong.

“MercyCare helped me get my own place. Now I have my own place, my own space,” Emmanuel said.

Having his own place, somewhere to call home for the past two years has been a monumental step in creating a better life.

Emmanuel grew up in Sudan, his life and family ripped apart by the civil war causing one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. Emmanuel was forced to become a child soldier, finally escaping at 15 years old to Egypt.

“I ran from them, they were looking for me – the soldiers back in Sudan – so I ran to Egypt. After that I ran here to Australia.”

His Aunt, a pastor in Mirrabooka, brought him to Perth in 2002. With a childhood tainted with significant trauma and unimaginable challenges, Emmanuel struggled to piece his life together.

To cope with the trauma and tenuous mental health he would turn to drugs and alcohol. His support network was almost non-existent, dysfunctional and so-called friends were a bad influence.

After escaping the atrocities of his childhood, bad luck came to Emmanuel again. He was hit by a car and acquired a brain injury. Moved from service to service, Emmanuel was referred to MercyCare in 2017 after living in a group home with around-the-clock support.

Despite his trauma and coping with the day-to-day challenges of an acquired brain injury, Emmanuel came to MercyCare as a young man with a big smile, someone that still had hopes and dreams of a better life despite what had been thrown at him.

The MercyCare team took a different approach to providing services to Emmanuel. They took the time to find out what mattered to him, what was important, what he wanted for his future, where his passions were.

Emmanuel now is a passionate cook, woodworker, painter, and singer.

“I like cooking. I like to cook African food and lamb chops. I like making things with my hands, I’m doing music, doing woodwork. I can make anything,” Emmanuel said.

With his support worker he has volunteered for his local community, learnt important life skills, how to live independently, and attends a Creative and Therapy Arts program.

“I know all the other people in the art group. I get along with them all and they love me too.”

With hope now in his life, Emmanuel will continue to strive for a better future.

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