Sanctuary Scholarships: Kavery’s journey to Deakin

A childhood scarred by civil war in Sri Lanka hasn’t stopped Sri Lankan refugee Kavery Jeyakumar from working hard towards her dream of becoming a doctor.

When she was just nine years old, Kavery was forced to abandon her fifth-grade studies after schools stopped operating in her local area due to the constant threat of bombs and bullets.

This was daily life for Kavery, who was born in Sri Lanka and watched helplessly as a brutal civil war between 1983 and 2009 tore her homeland apart.

During the last days of war in 2009, Kavery and her family moved more than 12 times with her education on indefinite hold as the family fled from one place to another in search of refuge.

It was during one of these moves that Kavery and her mother were injured during an air attack. Around the same time, her father was arrested and listed by the Sri Lankan Government as ‘missing’.

The family first fled to Malaysia, then on to Indonesia, then by boat to Christmas Island, and finally to the Australian mainland. This journey included two years’ hard imprisonment in Sri Lanka, eight months’ imprisonment with merciless treatment in Malaysia, and six months’ detention on Christmas Island.

Despite the tremendous hardships she has faced in her short life, Kavery is determined to reach her full potential and completed three years of schooling in Australia, achieving great results during her VCE.

Today, Kavery is one of nine recipients of a Deakin Sanctuary Scholarship and studying a Bachelor of Biomedical Science with the aim of becoming a doctor.

She is also an active and passionate community volunteer who develops and delivers youth workshops as a teacher at Eelam Tamil Association School in Glen Waverley, providing a path to education for fellow Tamil students seeking to follow in her footsteps.

“It was very hard for me to be comfortable with the education system here in Australia after not going to school for almost five years,” Kavery said.

I still hoped and hoped that there will be someone that will help me and the help came in the form of the Sanctuary Scholarship.

“The scholarship is not only helping me study, but it has reduced so much pressure and sadness in each and every member of my family.

“I’m always thankful to the people who thought of people like me in need.”

The work of Hannah Quinlivan, from her Travelling Light exhibition, is featured with her kind permission.


Deakin GIVE

Deakin GIVE is the university’s workplace giving program. It provides a wonderful opportunity for Deakin staff to donate to a range of charitable causes directly from their pre-tax pay.

Many Deakin staff are showing their support for refugees and asylum seekers by choosing to donate to Sanctuary Scholarships through Deakin GIVE.

Together, we are transforming the lives of vulnerable members of our communities like Kavery and Javid, another of Deakin’s nine Sanctuary Scholarship holders who was profiled in the second edition of dKin Difference. 

University staff show their support for Deakin GIVE, Deakin’s workplace giving program.