Good News for Yoav via Adrian Buzolic- updated 5 June 2020

“Nice work neighbours! We have managed to accommodate Yoav with help from a couple of kind community members and to subsidise him with $20 a week from another. There has also been good news coming from the University of Queensland, our neighbour across the river, that has approved Yoav’s application for assistance on the grounds of financial hardship.

He’ll be staying with us until the end of September now to complete his training. Current accommodation arrangements last until the 10th of July though so we’ll need to find him another somewhere to live by then.

“Not sure how I can thank you all for your amazing help!” says Yoav.

“You’ve already thanked us Yoav” I told him “and you’ve got a lifetime of helping other people ahead of you”.”

Stories, stories, stories.  They’re all around us and in Kurilpa the diversity of stories seems endlessly amazing if not bewildering.

Yoav is here with us for his second time now.  Israel born and raised, Yoav was living in Chicago when he and his wife and child decided to come and join us in Kurilpa.  At the age of 31 it was time to follow his dream by adding a physiotherapy degree to the exercise physiology qualification he’d already achieved.  It was also a time for bad news.

He opened the letter while sitting in a lecture at our University of Queensland, the one confirming that the growing weakness in his legs was in fact due to a rare form of muscular dystrophy (Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy or LGMD2A). That was three years ago.

“But you have to just get on with it,” Yoav says.

And he did; completing his course work and then going back to Chicago in 2019 for one of his practical placements.  Then in January this year, with impeccable timing, he returned to Kurilpa.

As we sat together talking at The Jacaranda Coffee Lane I could see the enthusiasm in his eyes as he told me there was no question about where to complete his final placement.

“It had to be West End.  This is such a great place.  It’s a real community and the people here seem to really care about each other.

“Where we lived in Chicago it was like that, although you don’t get the gang violence that we do over there.”

It had to be West End even though the news last time wasn’t so good.  And it still has to be West End even though the bad news has kept coming.  This time the Covid-19 crisis hit and we know how that has left our international student guests.  But to make matters worse Yoav received word from his wife that she wants a divorce.

So, armed with exactly $1,012 to his name, Yoav is facing a difficult future being part of our community.  Yoav’s four housemates can’t carry him for much longer as they all are students as well, and their financial circumstances aren’t all that much better than his.  International students are falling through the cracks of Government support and the logistics of getting back to Chicago, finding employment, avoiding Covid-19, and transferring a course of study that is a 5 weeks placement away from completion, is a bridge too far.

This Kurilpa story comes to you care of a number of connections and chance meetings.  Yoav queues up for help at Wednesday’s Food Bank on Boundary Street.  Sandi Trembath, one of our local Police officers, helps him and his wheelchair to the front of the queue (“Sandi is an angel – at a time when my trust in people was shattered, Sandy helped me regain some trust in people around me.”). Sandi hears his story and thinks of me because I’ve tried to arrange help for international students in the past.  I call Jan at The Westender to tee up this article and here we are after a chat with Yoav at The Jac.  That’s community!

So, if there are folks amongst us who can help Yoav take some good news with him when he finally makes it back to Chicago here’s what he might need:

  • Volunteer or paid work (physical work requiring leg work not so much, but he is a qualified exercise physiologist and also knows his way around office work in the medical field)
  • Rent free accommodation for around 6 weeks (few special requirements other than less than 10 stairs to negotiate and reasonable proximity to public transport)
  • Practical placement opportunities with a physiotherapy practice.

Offers of help can be sent to Yoav via the author at


Image by Jan Bowman – Yoav with Adrian Buzilic