Mark Povey - Somali workers

Running time
1 min 57 sec
Department of Veterans' Affairs


We had we had 10 Somalis working for us, nine males and females. She came in every day and she helped clean up the house. The males did gardening and we had we had one of our workers, he had had three businesses before the Civil War. He was a carpenter by trade. So anything we need to build, he would build it for us and the workers would keep the place clean and would weed and garden and it was just...

I know it doesn't sound like much that they were doing but it sort of gave them a bit of significance that they could go to work every day. We paid them a small token every week but they were lucky because there was other people who had nothing. We used to give them lunch every day. If we had stuff left over, we would give it to them the end of the day and they would take it home for their families. They had nothing.

You know, if we have an old pair of shoes, we would throw them away. If we had an old pair of shoes there, we'd have our workers clamouring over a pair of shoes that they would fit one their children at home. So it just it became real then that these people had nothing. I came home on leave in the August, I bought a heap of seeds and I took them back and I gave them to one of our elderly Somali workers.

He looked after and grew veggies for us. I gave him you know packets of carrots and peas and so forth and to just to see the look on his face when I gave him the seeds so that he could grow some more vegetables, you know, you can see that you've done the right thing by them. But, you know, once we left, you know, they were left to their own devices and you start to wonder what happened to them after we left the country.

Was this page helpful?
We can't respond to comments or queries via this form. Please contact us with your query instead.