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St Joseph's staff member receives National Education prize

A Coffs Harbour Catholic Healthcare staff member who has been described as ‘caring and compassionate’ and ‘a beautiful lady’ has been awarded national Community Education Student of the Year award this week, merely months after completing her Assistant in Nursing (AIN) Course.

In the regional New South Wales city of Coffs Harbour, Jolie Kaja accepted her award presented by Community Colleges Australia, alongside local member Andrew Fraser and Deputy Premier of NSW, Minister for Skills and Small Business, John Barilaro.

Media representatives from SBS (Story: Monday 21 August) and ABC also joined the crowd of excited individuals at the presentation – taking a particular interest in Jolie’s backstory as a refugee.

Jolie’s story originates in the Democratic Republic of Congo where she worked as a Red Cross Volunteer, but was forced to flee the country when war broke out.

Travelling on foot with her four children, Jolie arrived in Zambia, where she resided in a refugee camp for seven years as a single mother.

Having experienced the trauma of a war-stricken country and the loss of her home, friends and some family, Jolie’s soft-spoken voice and nurturing, caring demeanor is one that reveals only kindness and pure compassion.

Today, she works as an AIN at St Joseph's Aged Care in Coffs Harbour, where she says she “loves her job” and is incredibly thankful for the opportunity to help others.

"I love to help other people because, when I help them, I feel happy,” she says.

Jolie asserted her thanks to the community of fellow aged care workers, her teachers and all Australians at the awards ceremony, where Minister Barilaro shared his own experience as a family of migrants moving to Australia some fifty years ago.

“We live in a country of opportunity, and if you’re willing to apply yourself, you can have whatever life you want”.

“Her contribution will be like the many before her, refugees and migrants, that have made this nation the great nation that we are,” he said.

Jolie says she now wants to bring her skills and achievements to those who need her help in other parts of the world.

“My dream is to take this knowledge to Congo and Zambia to help other people,” she says.