Education ‘the greatest gift’

Daniel Matabishi has been awarded an academic scholarship. Picture: Marcus Whisson d414908
Daniel Matabishi has been awarded an academic scholarship. Picture: Marcus Whisson d414908

The 17-year-old left the central African country with his mother and five siblings in 2006 for a better future.

Since moving to Western Australia, the family’s priority has been education.

For a single mother-of-six, Daniel said it was financially difficult and that support from organisations like The Smith Family in Mirrabooka was very helpful.

The former John Septimus Roe Community College student has been part of The Smith Family’s Learning for Life program since 2010 and received financial assistance in high school.

Now graduated, Daniel has received the tertiary Learning for Life scholarship funded by DLA Piper law firm to study biomedical science at the University of Western Australia.

Daniel said having the financial support, especially after moving to a new country, allowed him to focus on his education, fitting in at school and setting up a new life.

‘It was very different coming from the Congo to here,’ he said.

‘I didn’t speak English when I arrived so that was daunting.

‘Luckily some of the friends I first met actually spoke my language.

‘A lot of the people that I met when I first came here were also migrants, so it was easy I guess to relate to them.

‘As my English got better I made new friends with Australian people, fitted in and became accustomed to the culture.’

Comparing life in the Congo to Australia, Daniel said he had a lot more opportunities, especially through education.

‘My life would have been very different there,’ he said.

‘Here you have public and private education, but over there you just have private education and if you can’t afford that then you don’t go to school.

‘If I stayed there I don’t know what I would have done ” whether I would have continued studying or left and did something else.’

Daniel said education was the greatest thing anyone could give someone and that he was grateful for his mother’s decision to leave her family and pursue better opportunities for her children.

‘Mum is very proud,’ he said.

‘For her it’s a huge thing for three of her children to go to university because she has invested a lot into us and shows that what she did wasn’t in vain.’