"We're very excited. It's not just about us helping them; they are enriching us as well," Father Greg Bellamy said.
A community in Australia came together to welcome nine refugees including children by transforming an old convent that has been vacant since the last Sister of St Joseph moved out into a home. With the blessing of the local Catholic parish, hundreds of volunteers turned the old Molong convent, located in the central west of New South Wales into a warm, loving space for those fleeing the war. Each room in the new home was renovated by a different school, community group, or organization. "I hope that this project inspires other communities, not just in the city but in the bush as well, to find that practical thing that they can do to help people in need," Father Greg Bellamy said, according to ABC News Australia.
A renovated convent has become a home for Ukrainian refugees in Central West NSW. #abc730 https://t.co/T9jJDFQErj— abc730 (@abc730) November 9, 2022
Alex Volodin's family arrived in May and was the first to settle in the Central West. After finding a job at an engineering firm, he says he's grateful to call Australia his home. "Here a lot of people support me, and my family and I say thank you," he said. "I am happy here, and my family are very very happy." Anna Kovalenko along with her family will be the other residents at the home. Matthew French, principal at St Joseph's Catholic Primary School, called the moment of the families moving in a bittersweet one. "That convent has housed the sisters of St Joseph for many many years … it's a very important building for the sisters," he said
"It's probably a sad time … but also a happy time that they are seeing these wonderful families moving in." Everyone in the community is excited to welcome the refugees including the children. Two Ukrainian boys will be joining kindergarten next year. "People want to see these people here; they want to see them safe. They want to see them living in a happy home," he said. "The transformation has been incredible, it's like a new home now. It went from being a rundown old convent to being virtually like a new home."
Many in the community have publically shown gestures of love and a warm welcome including the main street of Molong being covered in blue and yellow Ukrainian flags "The people here in the bush have really opened their hearts to them," Fr. Bellamy said. "There's been assistance not only with accommodation but helping them to set up a life here. We're very excited. It's not just about us helping them; they are enriching us as well."
Cover Image Source: YouTube | ABC News (Australia)