From couch-surfing to student and scholarship winner

Student Elias Mahfoud, Eveline House

Housing, support and study have been life-changing for Eveline House resident Elias Mahfoud.

At just 15 Elias left a troubled childhood home and also dropped out of school. After experiencing life challenges including homelessness, he became one of the first residents at Eveline House – Anglicare’s supported youth accommodation in Devonport – which opened in 2018.

Elias featured in a story earlier this year about his positive experiences with a community mentoring program. At that time, he was starting to re-engage with education.

He has now almost completed his Certificate II in Creative Arts at TasTAFE. And for next year he’s won a scholarship to study at C3 College in Sydney, a creative arts and bible college.

“Starting at TasTAFE was intimidating at first. You know, like when you open a door and don’t know what’s on the other side. So you creep in slowly,” said Elias.

“But I soon discovered it was like being reborn. Studying was transformative for me, especially being around other creative people. And as I began to mix colours, it was like I was actually seeing colour for the first time”.

The TasTAFE campus in Devonport is located next to Eveline House. The accessibility is ideal for the young people who live at Eveline House.

“The art that I have done during my course has helped me to find my true self,” said Elias. “As I’m painting, with acrylics or water colours, whether it’s something abstract or real, it’s as if I’m tracing out my emotions,” said Elias.

When he was told about the possibility of a scholarship at the C3 College and encouraged to apply, Elias didn’t expect to be successful.

“I completed the application form myself. Then I had an interview. I couldn’t believe it when I was chosen. It still feels unreal but the reality will probably sink in once I’m actually there,” said Elias.

His course starts in February. In the meantime, Elias will continue with his volunteer work with Mersey Community Care.

“As I was passing their building a few months ago I saw a sign ‘Do you have 4 hours to spare each month?’ And I did. So I put up my hand to volunteer,” he said. Elias has been driving older people to appointments, mostly around Devonport, but as far as Sheffield and even a pick up from the Launceston Airport.

Elias agrees his life has changed dramatically since becoming a student at Eveline House.

“I realize I have an identity. Before I just existed. But now I love getting to know myself. I no longer feel suppressed and am also able to feel a connection with other people,” he said.

Find out more about how Anglicare makes education a priority for young people in our supported accommodation and also more generally, about Housing Support.

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