From The Windmill – A Journal of the Diverse Voices of Women  

 Hello, my name is Shemsiya Wako Waritu. I am an Oromo from Ethiopia, married, and a mother of four children. I came to Australia in 1995. It wasn’t easy leaving my loved ones behind and coming to a place where I didn’t know anyone, but I came for a better life. Australia is a beautiful country with lots of amazing opportunities like education, which, unfortunately, I refused to use, which is sad. English was the main reason why I ran away from learning, which is something many people struggle with.    

 Here is a little bit of my life-story. This is the country I learned to proudly share my ethnic heritage after keeping it a secret for many years. Even though I come from Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group ‘Oromo’, I grew up feeling the need to hide my identity because my language was formally banned by previous governments and my culture was socially frowned upon. Even though I couldn’t make sense of it at the time, feeling forced to keep my heritage hidden really affected the way I viewed myself and the world.  

 When I came to Australia, I still felt the need to keep hiding my ethnic identity. It took me a very long time to completely open and accept who I am. Everyone’s support transformed me into a new version of myself and I feel like I have so much to offer the world. For the first time in 20 years, I decided to step out of my comfort zone. By doing this, I have learnt so much. 

 In the City of Wyndham, I have taken on formal roles and created new possibilities for myself, something that I’ve never thought possible, including a whole new career in community work, with the help of the wonderful people out there who believed in me when I didn’t. Through my new journey, I started believing that anything is possible. For many years I lived putting myself down, thinking that I wasn’t good enough for anything. I thought the main reason was because I didn’t have any education. But then I started coming across so many talented women who have so much to give but feel that they aren’t worth it. That’s when I started realising that the problem wasn’t about being educated or not, it’s about not valuing ourselves as women. Knowing that became a wake-up call for me. I decided to learn how to value myself and what I do, including, coming to this new country to learn a new language, new culture, and raise my children. I realised that that, is a great skill. Now I’m so passionate about helping and encouraging women who don’t value themselves to achieve any dreams by doing what they love most. Because if I can do it any one can!!