Sieanna Boland credits Emerge and Jen Shaw (left) with giving her the power to turn her life around and start new, Monday, February 11, 2019.
Sieanna Boland credits Emerge and Jen Shaw (left) with giving her the power to turn her life around and start new, Monday, February 11, 2019. Kevin Farmer

How Sieanna's life changed in three weeks

SIEANNA Boland has endured countless obstacles and challenges throughout her life, but all of that has been swept away thanks to Jen Shaw and the Emerge Cafe.

The 20-year-old indigenous trans woman, who has battled mental illness, homelessness and disability for several years, is one of the early success stories from the social enterprise cafe.

Ms Boland returned to Toowoomba from St George three weeks ago, unsure where she was going to live.

Sieanna Boland credits Emerge with giving her the power to turn her life around and start new, Monday, February 11, 2019.
Sieanna Boland credits Emerge with giving her the power to turn her life around and start new, Monday, February 11, 2019. Kevin Farmer

She was shocked how quickly her life had turned around after three weeks with Emerge.

"I've been trying so hard to create a life for myself (for years) and yet really it's only happened in three weeks," she said, fighting back tears.

"It's just been amazing, because Jen has supported me in so many ways.

"This week she's helping me with my own house - I was on the streets just a few weeks ago.

"She's just touched my heart so much."

Enduring a turbulent upbringing and dealing with her own mental illness struggles, Ms Boland said she finally had some direction in her future and identity.

"I grew up in Rockhampton and that's where our family was, and my parents were in a church and very religious," she said.

"It did get very hard, because they always knew since I was little that I was transgender, and they had a hard time accepting that.

"I've gone through a really bad depression but I told myself I've got to stop worrying about what (people) think and focus on my own life."

Emerge Toowoomba successfully raised $50,000 to afford the new cafe on Station St in the CBD, which celebrated a soft launch yesterday.

Ms Shaw said she wanted to transform the lives of more young people through the cafe and its neighbouring service centre.

"I work in youth homelessness as well, and the biggest barrier for young people trying to get into their own place is finding a stable income," she said.

"It's about the individual rather than just fitting them into a program.

"It's about giving them a job and working out their goals and what they want to do."

The cafe's new chef will start next Monday, but Ms Shaw and the staff have already been brewing coffees and selling sweet treats.

For more information about Emerge Cafe and its services, phone 0413 832 568 or head to emergecafe.com.au.



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