Emergency Support Service – Mariam and Elias

Emergency Support Service – Mariam and Elias

Ten weeks ago, Mariam* was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her husband Elias* has given up his job to care for her and their children.

Support for Mariam and Elias is severely limited. This is a desperate situation, and only ARA’s Emergency Support Service can provide the support this family needs right now.

Will you please send a gift urgently to support Mariam and her family?

Mariam was breast feeding her little girl when she noticed a strange pain in her chest a few weeks ago. This was a pain she had not felt before. But she didn’t have time to stop and think about it, so she pushed the feeling away.

But within weeks, Mariam was feeling extremely unwell, and had no idea why. After a visit to the GP and multiple tests, Mariam was diagnosed with breast cancer. And this family is all alone, with no support.

Mariam and Elias were so happy… but now their lives have been turned upside down.

This is not the first time Mariam and Elias have faced an overwhelming and frightening situation. In their home country, there was war and constant violence and bombing, and every day they feared for their lives.

They waited six long years for a humanitarian visa to come through, waiting and hoping. In 2016, Mariam and Elias left everything and everyone they knew behind and arrived in Australia, making the most of a new start.

They first arrived in Sydney, but the cost of living hit hard. Elias heard about a chance for an affordable home loan, if they could save a small amount of money as a deposit. He was filled with hope for a bright new future for his family, and a home of their very own.

They moved to Adelaide and happily set up their new life, with further joy in welcoming their fourth child. But sadly, only a few months later, Mariam began to feel unwell.


Mariam’s oncologist recommended she begin chemotherapy right away.

Mariam listened to the advice she was given, but had no concept of the impact of chemotherapy. After her first two treatments, she was so unwell, Elias had to call an ambulance. He didn’t know what else to do.

Mariam’s oncologist recommended she begin chemotherapy right away.

Mariam listened to the advice she was given, but had no concept of the impact of chemotherapy. After her first two treatments, she was so unwell, Elias had to call an ambulance. He didn’t know what else to do.

Mariam was in hospital for nine days. Elias had to leave his new job as a truck driver in Adelaide to stay home and care for the children.

Their baby needs attention, and now must be fed with formula. The older children are distressed and worried about their mum. Mariam is often so unwell during the night that Elias must dash between her and the baby, caring for both. He is now having trouble getting food on the table.

The older children have had to miss school, because Elias has been so busy, staying up all night, he cannot take them. Mariam and Elias are so proud of the children, especially how much English they have learned. They worry the children will lose confidence, fall behind with their school work and start going backwards.

Elias is now out of work, but the mortgage must still be paid, the bills still arrive, and there are six of them to feed.


Mariam did not understand the symptoms of breast cancer. They are still learning English, and trying their best to understand the health system.

And because Mariam and Elias have been in Australia more than five years, they do not qualify for many support services.

This is why ARA often becomes a first point of call for people like Mariam and Elias. We have compassionate case workers who speak their language, or have a strong connection with their home country. Our case workers can guide distressed people like Mariam and Elias in how to connect with the right services, and stay by their side until they are feeling more confident.

You can help provide support through ARA’s Emergency Support Service. Funds in this service mean intensive, tailored support that is not available anywhere else for families like Mariam’s.

We can help Elias make connections to other agencies, and make sure Mariam has emotional support, with a trained cancer counsellor. We can work closely with the children’s schools to make sure they have all the wellbeing support they need.

ARA can also provide emergency help with food and petrol vouchers, blankets and warm clothes for the cold winter nights ahead, assistance with mortgage payments and access to financial counselling.

With your gift, we can go above and beyond, because the people we support do not have to tick boxes or justify their needs. It’s this more complex support, such as additional case worker hours, that makes the difference.

Every day at ARA, we see the heartbreaking impact of the rising cost of living.

The cost of rent, food, petrol and essential items continues to rise, and more people than ever before are arriving on our doorstep, desperate for help. People who do not qualify for help from other services, but turn to ARA as a last resort, a place where they will always find compassion and understanding.

The Emergency Support Service was created to offer urgent, practical support, as well as long-term assistance to empower families to move towards a brighter future. Over the last three years, we have helped hundreds of people, thanks to you and others just like you.

There is no safety net for Mariam and Elias. They are all alone. Will you please help us take care of Mariam and her family?

Please donate to the ARA Emergency Support Service.

*We have changed names to protect the privacy of our clients

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