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After almost 11 years, Deo, a refugee from Burundi, still remains in limbo.
What does remain constant is his home of four years – the Haymarket Foundation’s crisis accommodation in Chippendale.
“The Haymarket Foundation changed my life,” he says. “It’s been positive. While I still have problems, at least I know I have food and a place to stay.”
He was previously drifting between other homelessness service providers, which were only able to provide one night’s accommodation at a time.
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The Haymarket Foundation is known for its work with people who have nowhere else to go.
Amongst those are people with mental health, alcohol and other drug issues and frequently, lifelong trauma and disability.
A large proportion of residents are refugees and other non-Australians, who have no housing pathways open to them.
“I have one leg here and one in my own country,” says Deo, who can not return to Burundi because of his political beliefs. He is a member of the Tutsi ethnic minority and many of his family have been persecuted. His story was previously reported in the Sydney Morning Herald.
The 45-year-old has work rights, allowing him to continue casual work making fixtures for use in the construction industry.
But he’s still not able to access a protection visa and has been caught in a legal battle to try to stay.
“My work can finish at any time and I don’t have access to Centrelink,” he says. “The lockdowns were really hard because I had no income and nothing to do. I had no quality of life.”
Now he’s able to work again – getting up at 5am and commuting two hours to his workplace. He comes back 12 hours later.
He credits the tenacity of his case manager, Dinsel Davies, who advocates for him and helps support with advice and counselling.
“Deo has endured many obstacles however he is resilient, committed and is wanting to meaningfully contribute to Australian society,” says Dinsel Davies, who Team Leader of Homelessness Services at the Haymarket Foundation.
“During Deo’s time at the Haymarket Centre, he is not being charged rent due to his circumstances, however when he gets casual work Deo makes financial contribution toward his accommodation without prompting from staff. Deo believes in giving back.”
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