Mona Mahamed knows exactly what it’s like to endure hardship. In fact, it was the driving impetus for her to set up her community support organisation, Community Support Services Inc (CSS) in Bankstown, south west Sydney, four years ago.
SecondBite has been supplying food hampers to CSS from the beginning, helping to support up to 100 women and their children who come in for food relief each week.
A mother of six children and a former high school teacher, Mona lived with depression for many years while raising her family. The daily battle she sees many of her clients facing as they try to cover costs for their childrens’ education, put food on the table and pay bills is one she knows all too well.
Mona says she set the charity up to help connect women in the local area and “revive the village”, which has become the motto of her organisation.
“Too many women struggle alone and don’t know how or where to reach out for help. It’s so important that we lift other women up, break cultural biases and look deeper than skin colour or other differences.”
“The food we get from SecondBite makes a huge difference to the women who use our service. Many of them are highly educated and came here from overseas on skilled working visas but through a variety of circumstances, haven’t been able to find work. Often their qualifications haven’t been recognised and the stress of ongoing unemployment and insecurity has led to family breakdowns. Many were close to homeless when they came to see us.”
“Most of these women don’t qualify for government support like Centrelink benefits or rental assistance because they aren’t Australian residents. They really fall through the cracks and organisations like ours are helping keep them afloat.”
Mona says the reliability of the food that SecondBite provides CSS each week is one less thing these women have to worry about as their children go off to school with nutritious food in their tummies. It also means these mums can use what little income they do have on rent and other necessities to keep themselves, and their families, afloat.