MUM'S HONESTY: 'There comes a time when you get depressed'
GIVING up a successful career and her birthplace was one of the hardest decisions Leleth Sorono ever made, but seeing her children blossom has made it worthwhile.
Since uprooting her life in the Philippines and migrating to Warwick in 2003, Mrs Sorono has embarked on a mission to help other Filipinos make the challenging transition.
Bouts of depression, communication breakdowns and the hopeless feeling of "starting from scratch" were among the hardships Mrs Sorono faced when she adjusted to her new life.
She said stepping out of a successful career was much harder than she expected.
"The fact that it was a very first time I was hands on with the kids 24/7 and looking for work was a big challenge," she said.
In the Philippines, Mrs Sorono was able to employ people to cook, clean and take care of her children while she worked in administration.
"Personally, it came to a point that I thought I knew a lot, I thought I could do this, and I thought 'how come I can't find work here in Warwick?'" she said.
"There is that feeling of not entirely regret but there comes a time where you get depressed."
Sixteen years later, Mrs Sorono has a secure bookkeeping job and feels like a local in Warwick.
Now she is turning her efforts to helping other Filipinos settle in the town she calls home.
why filipinos are flocking to town
Since establishing the Filipino Community in Warwick and Surrounds in July, Mrs Sorono has been amazed by the number of migrants who have carved out a new life on the Southern Downs.
The group now has 80 financial members and is growing rapidly.
"Just a couple of weeks ago I met someone, a Filipino, and that was the first time I had seen him even though he had been here for over three years already," Mrs Sorono said.
"We just bumped into each other. The population of Filipinos is growing so we just don't know who are the new faces and that is one thing the organisation is looking at to provide services to new settlers in the area.
"Coming from the Philippines is a big change so we want to help people settle well in Warwick."
It's all about unity
One goal of the group is to give back to Warwick.
The organisation held its first public event - the Sayaw Festival - at the weekend to share cultural treasures of the Philippines with the wider community.
WIRAC was transformed with music, dance, food and volleyball - the Filipino national sport.
Mrs Sorono said the purpose of the event was to foster harmony in the community.
"Because of how different the culture is between different people in Warwick, it is important that we respect one another," she said.
"That respect fosters harmony and that harmony brings people together.
"Through the dances and performances we are hoping to send that message that we are unique, we are different from the rest, we have to admit our culture is different from other cultures.
"But we are still happy to share and integrate in the community, proactively supporting the wider community."