With his aunt’s kitchen floor as his bed and study desk, finishing Year 12 seemed an impossible task to a teenage Steven Tu.
But with help from The Smith Family, the Noble Park 23-year-old completed VCE and a university degree.
The two-minute animated film Steven and the Tightrope Walk is the fourth in The Smith Family’s One in Ten series, which shares the true stories of children who have lived with and overcome disadvantage with the charity’s support.
Steven, 23, literally tells his story in his own words as the film’s narrator.
As a youngster his family was evicted from their home and couldn’t afford the basics he needed for school.
“When we couldn’t afford the rent, we lost our home,” he said.
“We had to move into my aunt’s one-bedroom flat, where my pregnant mother, my father, and my two siblings slept in a small lounge room. I was on the kitchen floor. Late at night, I sometimes had to study on the kitchen floor because there just wasn’t room elsewhere.
See the animated film of Steven’s life.
“I started to fall behind at school because we couldn’t afford the books or school trips – I felt so alone.”
Steven couldn’t see himself passing high school.
“It was a scary feeling,” he said.
“When I was on that floor studying, it didn’t feel like there was a light at the end of the tunnel.
“It was a struggle to get by.”
He said The Smith Family’s support was the reason he made it through school, and he was now in a full-time managerial position in the health sector.
“When I finished Year 12, I was so happy – it was the best feeling I’ve ever had,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to the future, I have a great job now and I can’t wait to see what’s next.”
Smith Family CEO Dr Lisa O’Brien said one in 10 Australian children were living in jobless families.
“Our latest film aims to showcase the courage of one of the students we were able to assist,” she said.
“Our education sponsorship program, Learning for Life, ensured Steven was equipped with all the items that he needed, like stationery, books and the correct uniform, as well as extra outside-of-school learning support.
“Steven’s story is truly inspiring and shows the real benefits that can be achieved when the community reaches out and invests in supporting the education of a disadvantaged child.
“With this generous help, these children can create better futures for themselves.”
Visit thesmithfamily.com.au to learn more or sponsor a child.