While the Good Samaritan Sisters in Pakenham, Victoria, say they’re helping their African friends with many aspects of life in Australia, they’re also learning a great deal from them.
- The Good Oil
Good Samaritan Sister Teresa Lanigan was driving down a street in the outer Melbourne suburb of Pakenham when she first saw an African teenager walking along. Many would have driven straight past, but Teresa slowed down the car, called out ‘hello’ and began talking with him.
It was to be the beginning of a rich ministry with African refugees for Teresa and her two companions in community, Sisters Monica McKenzie and Patricia Hickey. 'His name was Ruben and he looked seven foot tall to me,' Teresa recalls. 'I found out he was going to the high school and I asked him a few questions about how he was getting on and so forth.
'Then I came home and I said "Guess what? I saw the first African up the street in Pakenham." And we said well, we’d better do something to keep an eye on this and see what they need.' The sisters found out that Ruben, who had arrived in Australia as a refugee from war-torn Sudan, was going off to school each morning with only a glass of milk, and no breakfast.
'So, Patricia and Monica taught him how to cook some things, especially porridge,'Teresa says. And now there are a few of the Sudanese families that cook porridge because he passed the skills on to them and they all love it.
'As time went on, we encouraged him to complete Year 12. He got his VCE and now he’s nursing. So he’s done pretty well, and Ruben now has three extra Australian grandmas – that’s what he calls us.'
Photo: Good Samaritan Sisters Patricia Hickey, Monica McKenzie and Teresa Lanigan