Sonny came to Australia on a student visa almost 10 years ago with the hopes of completing his studies and building himself as a professional. During his time in Australia, he met people of all religions and ethnicities but Muslims that stood out the most for him. He started growing his connections with the Muslim community and visiting mosques to learn more about Islam until he finally took the step to become Muslim. After some time, he told his family about his conversion and hoped that they would accept him in this stage of his life. Instead, they were upset and very unhappy with his decision. Knowing that he wasn’t going to let go of this new religion, they decided to cut off all communication, support, and ties with him. Leaving him stranded in Australia for the rest of his study period.
The stress and lack of financial support from his family was becoming unbearable for Sonny, and because of this he couldn’t finish his study. Once his student visa expired, he didn’t have the means to apply for another visa or extend his current one either. He was too afraid to go back home knowing his family’s reaction and their dislike towards Islam. Sonny decided to stay in Australia, but it resulted in him becoming an undocumented immigrant. From then on, he continued to seek help from as many of his friends as he could, especially since he had no working rights to be hired. Soon after this, he was admitted to a detention centre due to his visa status. After two years of staying in detention, he was somehow able to get a bridging visa and was released. Despite his efforts, his bridging visa expired as well, and he was left homeless with no income for the next 4 years.
Sonny continued to live on the streets while attending a local mosque for daily prayers on time every day. One day, he decided to ask for help from the mosque volunteers to help him get a job and find a temporary home. Unfortunately, the only identification he had was an expired passport and a bank account which was shut down because of overdue fees. He was referred to a few organisations for help while he was allowed to stay in the mosque and occasionally given money for food, but he didn’t have access to any devices or means of travel to apply for these services. Finally, Sonny was referred to NZF and was able to send an application with the help of a mosque volunteer.
The story of Sonny is one of tawakkul (Trust in Allah) and inspiration in how a Muslim holds onto the rope of Allah so dearly, despite living an impoverished life in silence for almost a decade. Through the donations to NZF and our service partners, we have been able to organise access to services in our Crisis Accommodation and Essential Vouchers Programs until the end of this year. We are now actively helping Sonny find a way to help him reapply for a valid Australian visa, while helping him get back on his feet and continue his journey as a Muslim.