Savera finds peace and hope in NT after fleeing civil war 

Savera Harerimana gained her first qualification late last year

Women around the world will come together this week to celebrate the global centenary of International Women’s Day. At Charles Darwin University women will gather to hear stories of inspiration.

Savera Harerimana arrived in Darwin as a refugee from the Republic of Burundi in East-Central Africa. Her journey to Australia led her to gain her first qualification and full-time job.

After losing her husband during the civil war that raged from 1993 to 1995, Savera Harerimana fled to Tanzania where she lived for 11 years in a refugee camp. Unable to return to her country and fearing for her life, Savera sought help with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and arrived in Darwin with her three children in 2007.

Savera enrolled in Certificate III in Aged Care with Steps Training, a non-profit training organisation with assistance from the DiversityWISE Program, through WISE Employment.

“At first I didn’t think that I was actually going to manage considering that I had very low language and literacy skills,” she said.

Savera left primary school after grade 2 in Burundi when her father became terminally ill and her family lost their source of income to pay for her education.

“I got a lot of support and mentoring through WISE Employment and they assured me that Steps Training would assist with my language and literacy issues. I was determined because I knew that education was the key to my success in securing full-time employment.” 

Savera persisted and graduated with a Certificate III in Aged Care in December 2010. She now works at Carpentaria Disability Services as a disability support worker.

“I’ve always been a carer by nature,” she said. “We didn’t have aged care facilities or disability support centres in my home country. I am glad that I can help people who need assistance with their day-to-day functioning and find the job very rewarding.

Savera said she felt honoured to be given the opportunity to share her story with other people.

“To other women in my position, it’s very important to learn English and gain some qualifications. It’s the only way they can secure their future,” she said. “I know it’s hard to learn a new language when you’re older, but I believe that they can as I’ve done it and am enjoying the rewards of education. Keep trying. You can do it.”

Savera will join several prominent Territory women at The Northern Institute inaugural International Women’s Day celebration themed “Equal Access to education, training and science and technology: Pathway to decent work for women” at CDU on Tuesday, March 8.