60 seconds with a participant of the NETFA Leadership Program

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Our NETFA Leadership Program is well underway and every session we feel inspired by the program participants. From April to October 2022, twelve women from across Australia are meeting and participating in professional development on FGM/C, leadership and strategic storytelling.

The Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health (MCWH) recently interviewed one of the participants, Patricia Vanessa Marsella Juxon-Smith. MCWH publishes a monthly newsletter, which features a ’60 second interview’ with migrant women making a difference.

We thought we would share parts of Patricia’s short but sweet interview here.

What is the best thing that happened to you today?
Waking up this morning with good health and feeling strong. There are people who don’t have this.

If you had a magic wand, what would you use it for?
I would use my power to see my family again. They are in Sierra Leone. I just wish that I could see them and for them to be here with me in Australia.

If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?
I want to work with kids in an orphanage. I am an orphan myself and I want to open a foundation for orphaned kids to look after them, provide counseling and to talk to them. I want to help them understand that an orphan does not have to be alone, and that there are people who will be there for you. You have to be strong, determined and work towards your future.

What do you most value in your friends?
I value communication and trust. Friendship goes a long way when you understand each other. You can have someone to share your problems with. When you have that kind of person that you trust, you share your pain with that person. That’s what I value in my friendships.

What is something you have learnt from the NETFA Leadership Program?
Being part of this program is a blessing. I feel like my dreams are coming to light, being able to advocate against FGM/C in my community. I feel strong and confident speaking up for my rights.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone new to Australia, what would it be? 
Ask yourself what is your goal? Then work towards your goal.

Tell us about an amazing woman you know.
I think of Michelle Obama: a very strong, Black woman who serves as a role model for women. She is an advocate for poverty, awareness, and education. For me, she’s an amazing woman.

Do you have a song/music that inspires and motivates you? 
I love this song, “One Love” by Bob Marley. For me it’s a song which refers to universal love and respect for all people, regardless of race, creed, or colour. It’s very inspiring and motivating. Love one another no matter what your race may be.

If you could meet the Prime Minister tomorrow, what would like to tell him?
I’m on a bridging visa. I would ask him to give me my permanent residency and for my family to be here. For now, that is what I want.

Finish this sentence: “We need feminism because…”
…it advocates for equal rights of women in society.

Read the full MCWH WRAP newsletter.