Hope is growing on an inner-city rooftop.
Lionel – not his real name – is a little shy, by his own admission. He has good reason; he fled his central African homeland of Burundi, one of the world’s poorest countries, to seek asylum here. Now he waits in limbo, with limited English, in a country that doesn’t believe he is a refugee.
But when Lionel, a professional agronomist, tends to the rooftop vegetable garden at St Canice’s in Kings Cross, he blossoms.
“I am very happy, the garden is very good” he says. “I like gardens and I want to know more about gardens in Australia.”
The 43-year-old arrived here by plane in April last year to claim asylum. In Burundi, he worked for the government, supervising a team of agronomists. He was the head of crop production in one of the country’s 17 provinces.
“We showed the population how to cultivate, how to grow,” he says.