Orginally published in One Community's June 2020 Newsletter
At 15 years of age Patrick was orphaned. His greatest inspiration was his mother - a mother who worked tirelessly to help women and orphans.
This is how she shaped her son's life.
Today, Patrick Rumwagira is 25-years-old and works in Wollongong, NSW, as a support worker with NNA Direct Support Service, impelled to helping disadvantaged and vulnerable people just as his mother did in the Republic of Congo when he was growing up.
“I love this work. I reflect on how my mother used to support people in our small town and make them happy. It was her duty to give animals to women so they could give their children an education.
“She would give out pigs and if that wasn’t enough, she would sometimes give her own money to help them.”
As the young Patrick watched his mother work to improve the lives of others, he knew he wanted to grow up in her footsteps.
In our phone interview, Patrick’s voice echoes his deep commitment to ‘treating people right’. As an NNA Direct Support Worker Patrick is clear on how he sees his work –treating his clients, just as he would treat his mum, sisters and brothers.
“I believe in equal rights and treating people respectfully. We are all people and it means a lot to me to be able to help to change someone’s life and help them live independently.”
When his mother died Patrick and his four younger siblings migrated to South Australia, where the five orphans were taken under the wing of his mum’s brother, who lives in Adelaide.
He talks of his love of Australia and of his native Republic of Congo; how keen he is on football, singing songs of praise and his favourite foods, Italian nachos and Congolese Pondu.
Patrick speaks 7 languages and has his sights set on becoming a nurse. He relishes his day-to-day work helping others with planning meals, organising online health appointments and guiding through daily life skills.
And as he goes about his work with NNA Direct Support's clients Patrick reflects on his motivation as a support worker - his mother, who believed ‘everyone deserves to be happy’.