Nelson, a Sri Lankan refugee, sought asylum in Australia while visiting the country with his dance troupe in 2008. He was taking a huge risk, and one that threatened to break up his precious family.
Relentlessly persecuted, threatened with imprisonment, and surrounded by the violence of a country at war with itself, Nelson had little choice but to seek a better life elsewhere. ‘Every day there are bomb blasts, shooting,’ he says. ‘Children are used as soldiers.’ Forced to leave behind his wife and two young children, Nelson didn’t know when—or if—he would see them again.
After three nights on the streets of Sydney, Nelson was directed to JRS, a day that is etched into his memory: ‘Thirteenth of March 2008!’ he laughs. Far away from his own home and family, JRS became a refuge for this gentle dance teacher. They provided him with accommodation and legal assistance, celebrating with him when he was granted permanent residency. ‘They are very good people, they have helped me,’ he says simply.
But Nelson’s most joyous moment came when his wife and two young children were granted visas. He was reunited with his family in Sydney after a year of heartbreaking separation. ‘Nelson couldn’t wipe the smile off his face!’ recounted JRS Director Fr Sacha Bermudez-Goldman SJ.
While he dreams of starting a dance class, Nelson will be content with any work he can find. His family is looking forward to a safe, happy life in the country that has embraced them. ‘The people here are very friendly. There’s no fighting, no war or bombs,’ says Nelson.
JRS supports Nelson, and many others like him. With your help, we can continue make a world of difference in their lives.