Peter’s story – finding a forever home at Sacred Heart Community

2 December 2020
Peter, a Sacred Heart Community resident

After leaving politically unstable Zimbabwe and relocating to Australia, where he first experienced homelessness after a divorce, Peter is overjoyed to find a stable, peaceful home at our Sacred Heart Community.

“I am purposeful minded; I have privacy to write my memoirs, which I’ve been working on for some time; I’m comfortable and I enjoy taking a shower every day in my spacious bathroom!” Peter says.

“I’m very happy; I wouldn’t be where I am today were it not for Sacred Heart Mission. I would be with other tenants in insecure accommodation, battling with alcohol, cigarettes, addiction. Really, I would be struggling.”

Peter was living at our Avonsleigh Terrace residency before he moved to a comfortable new space in January 2020 at our new building on Grey Street, where he reconnected with friends and family.

“I love that I can still see my son, who lives locally and I have a beautiful home,” Peter says.

“Last week I rang my brother in London and I said, ‘for a person of my income I am living in a five-star accommodation, in a peaceful place that is mine’. He said, ‘I would love to come and see you when COVID-19 is over,’ and I would love for him to come and live near me in St Kilda.”

No stranger to adversity

He grew up in Zimbabwe and later moved to Botswana to teach mathematics and science while his country suffered under guerrilla warfare, which claimed the life of one of his brothers.

While living in Botswana, Peter was granted a scholarship to go study economics at the University of Swinburne in 1976 at Melbourne, where he says he topped his class. Peter also studied ‘pure and applied’ mathematics and architecture, at various universities in Melbourne, from 1977 to 1981.

In 1981, Peter returned to his home country Zimbabwe where he worked for the government, building five schools as well as a rural clinic which relied on solar energy. During that time Peter also supervised the construction of a rural village in Matabeleland, but sensing more corruption within the government he moved permanently back to Australia in 1991.

Peter, a Sacred Heart Community resident

In 2013, Peter said he completed a Bachelor degree in Recreation Management from Victoria University. Peter first experienced homelessness at 43, in Dandenong, after he divorced his wife and suddenly found himself without a new place to live.

“The local priests in Dandenong helped me look for accommodation and I moved into a place with some men, but I had to run away from the property they had given me because I was being taught alcoholism by the people I was living with and developed an addiction,” he says.

“The church got me through the tough times. I moved to Melbourne where I lived in various rooming houses before my doctor referred me to Sacred Heart Mission and I’m incredibly grateful to her for that.”

A meal at our Dining Hall was only the beginning …

People of all backgrounds are welcome to visit Sacred Heart Mission’s Dining Hall for a free meal and to access support, which is often the beginning step for people to exit homelessness.

“The first time I visited the Dining Hall, I was in need of a free meal and a hot shower; I was surprised by the generosity people gave me,” Peter says.

“I was still working as a teacher at this stage at TAFE and I was overwhelmed by the quality service they offered, with such a welcoming spirit.

“I eventually got a referral to move into Avonsleigh Terrace, and when the new building at 101 Grey Street was completed, I moved in there.”

Peter’s at ease and has a sense of security, with a place to call home at Sacred Heart Community for the rest of his days.