New program aims to link Shepparton African community members with meaningful work

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Back home in Tanzania, Byaonda Sadiki was a primary school teacher speaking both Swahili and French, and teaching multiple subjects.

She also had a passion for supporting women in need.

For a year, she worked as a translator in refugee camps, helping Burundian women who had fled conflict to access services. 

But since moving to Shepparton in February, 2019, Ms Sadiki’s career dreams have come to a screeching halt.

“I’ve been looking for a job for two years. It’s been difficult,” she said.

A woman stands in front of a tree
Byaonda Sadiki has been looking for a job for about two years.(ABC Goulburn Murray: Charmayne Allison)

Project supports African community

Ms Sadiki is not alone in her struggles.

Many others in Shepparton’s African community are struggling to secure employment.

In a recent local survey by St Paul’s African House, two-thirds of respondents said they were searching for paid work or more paid work.

This was despite a severe labour shortage in the region.

The language barrier can be a major hurdle for some.

Organising and paying for all the necessary documents, such as police checks and working with children’s checks, can also be prohibitive.

A close-up of apples on a tree
Many African community members can struggle to find work outside fruit picking.(ABC Rural: Margot Kelly)

To help address this, Furaha Baguma has developed Kazi Connect, a program aiming to link the community with work.

“But we want to find them work they will feel comfortable and happy to do,” she said.

Hopes of ongoing funding

Ms Baguma has already been volunteering her time to help other community members find employment.

But recently, she received a Scanlon Foundation grant to run the free program for 16 weeks through African House.

Four weeks have passed and Ms Baguma has already helped almost 30 people.

“Many of them come in feeling quite hopeless,” she said.

“I hope we can give jobs to as many people as possible.”

Two women stand together in front of a building
Byaonda Sadiki has been helped by Furaha Baguma to find a job.(ABC Goulburn Murray: Charmayne Allison)

Looking for dream jobs

Kazi Connect has worked to find Ms Sadiki a job.

But it has been difficult to secure employment that does not clash with her husband’s shifts, ensuring someone is at home to care for their children.

“So we are looking for something else for her,” Furaha said.

In the meantime, Ms Sadiki is waiting hopefully.

“I like to work, and I don’t want to be lazy,” she said.

“I can help my community, especially women, to take care of their children while they are going to work.”

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