Day 3 – Esmerelda

I love food. Food has been my life ever since I was old enough to spell my name in noodles. I am a chef. Or I was a chef. I moved to Australia to practice my Cuban cuisine arts on the innocent tastebuds of Bris-vagans. It was great. It wasn’t my restaurant. I am too young for that. But I loved working in the kitchen. The heat. The fires. The shouting! And of course the sweet scents and the biting aromas! It was long hours and always hard work, but it was at least fundamentally good work.


Then in 2013 two events would change my life. First I became pregnant with my little boy. Second I was diagnosed with hepatitis B.


The pregnancy exacerbated my symptoms greatly and I needed to take time off work, both for myself and my unborn baby. It was a hard time for me physically and emotionally the amount of time I wanted to take off work raised questions from my boss. So being an honest sort of person I told him why I needed to take so much time off work. At first he seemed okay with my situation, he approved my leave and wished me well. But when I returned to work 2 months later, he said that he did not want me to work in the restaurant anymore. He accused me of endangering the public and creating a risk for the restaurant having someone like me working there and said that I wasn’t allowed to work in the food service industry. I was still sick and heavily pregnant, and my employers just wanted to get rid of me because they deemed me to be a risk.


It was HALC that I came too when I could not take the stress of it anymore. They set my employers right, they also made sure that my employers did not withdraw their visa sponsorship. HALC made me feel empowered and helped me expose the truth about my employer. My family and I are now Australian citizens and I have the confidence to return to work when my baby is old enough.

[all names and information that might identify any individual have been changed for confidentiality purposes]

’45 Days, 45 Lives’ Campaign