Calvary Ryde’s Consolata Muthee Wins the Young Achiever’s Award at the Celebration of African Australians Inc NSW

Calvary Ryde Retirement Community employee Consolata Muthee was recognised for her achievements by being presented with the Young Acheiver’s award in the Celebration of African Australian Inc. NSW awards. Consolata’s accomplishments were commended at an awards ceremony held on Friday 24 November at the Bankstown Hotel.

29 year old Consolata is a Care Service Employee and international student from Kenya where she was born and bred. She grew up as the oldest in her family with two brothers and two sisters and completed her schooling in Kenya, mainly in boarding schools so she could receive the best education. After leaving school Consolata decided she didn’t want to go to university where there was study disruptions due to student/teacher strikes and instead completed a Diploma in Business from 2008-2010. She travelled the country looking for work and worked in various roles including a lecturer at a college, administration in a water company and in the Kenya Women Microfinance Bank (KWFT), a women only bank.

Consolata explains “The women only bank was eye opening. In the past in Kenya women could only apply for a loan if their husband, father, brother or uncle was with them. This bank was different. Instead if men wanted a loan they needed to be with their wife, mother, sister or aunt”.

While working Consolata received an email about studying in Australia and decided to find out more. She spoke with an agent in Nairobi who helped her through the process. Her mother was quite optimistic about the journey while her dad had some reservations initially, he later supported her fully.

On 5 July 2013 Consolata touched down in Australia, a country where she knew no one. “At first I didn’t even know where Australia was let alone know anyone there” said Consolata. While in Australia Consolata completed an advanced Diploma in Business in Sydney which would allow her to transition into a Bachelor of Business at the Australian Catholic University (ACU). Instead Consolata heard about social work and changed her bachelor. “I heard about social work from a friend and couldn’t believe that this was something you could do a degree in. I have been volunteering and helping the community my whole life and the thought that you could do it professionally was shocking”.  In 2015 she began her Bachelor of Social Work and will complete this degree after 4 years of study in 2018.

While studying, Consolata learnt about aged care and found the concept exciting. “In my country there is no such thing as aged care. Families will take in their elderly and look after them. The thought that I could support many elderly people in one spot sounded like a great job and a great place to be around. I started volunteering at aged care facilities across Sydney in the hope of getting work. I completed my Certificate III in Aged Care and began applying for roles” said Consolata.

Consolata spent a year and a half looking for a position in aged care where she even moved to Brisbane to try to find a role. In March 2015 she began working as a Care Service Employee at Calvary Ryde Retirement Community. Consolata explained “I had heard about Calvary from a friend who had told me about how multicultural the organisation was and how accepting they were. They took my resume and I got an interview based on my experience. I then received an offer. I was so excited!”.

When asked what the most rewarding part of her role is she said “I love everything about my role. If I had to pick one it would be working in the dementia wings of Calvary Ryde. I love how thankful the residents are when you do things for them and how happy they are to see you. Studying psychology has helped me to recognise their current moods and I’ve grown to understand them’”.

Consolata juggles her work with her study and her many extracurricular activities for which she was nominated for. “It has not been easy but Calvary has been really flexible. I am part of a local choir and have also been selected for many additional programs at University”.

In January 2017 Consolata was awarded a Vice Chancellor’s Scholarship to travel to Rome to study for a month. She was able to visit Kenya on her way back as it was so close. Consolata was also the first international student to be given placement at the prestigious St Vincent’s hospital.

In July 2017 she attended the Council of International Students Australia (CISA) conference in Canberra as the Ambassador for ACU. She presented a speech on racism and discrimination at the conference and was encouraged by the Executive of the Australian Student Council to apply for a position. She now holds a voluntary role on the Executive and hopes to use this position to tackle international student issues.

After returning from the conference Consolata was appointed the Interchange program in August. The program involved students from eight universities in NSW. Groups of eight were formed to research on issues that affect international students including employment, housing and safety and wellbeing. Consolata’s group worked on housing and the difficulties international students face mainly on the legal front. They found that after interviewing over 150 students that over half of them had issues with their landlords that needed to involve legal action. Many did not know where to go. Her team connected the students with legal organisations to help with their concerns.

Consolata concluded “If it wasn’t for Calvary I wouldn’t be where I am today. I have a job I love, financial support and a place to call home. Calvary allows me to balance my work with my study and extracurricular activities. I would just like to thank Calvary for the opportunity they have given me”.