Since migrating to Australia from the Philippines in 1989 with her husband and three young children, Juliet has had an accomplished career with the Electricity Trust of South Australia, Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). At 66 she is still working as finance manager for the family’s food and catering business.
But one thing has never left her – the incredibly strong faith and trust in God instilled in her by her mother, a skillful dressmaker who worked long hours and never complained.
“My mum, she’s my idol,” she said.
“In the morning she would go to church and in the evening she would go to church.
“She would ask me to always come with her; I could see her passion and dedication to the Blessed Virgin.”
Not only does Juliet have an unwavering belief in the power of prayer, she also puts her faith into action through her involvement in the local parish and the Filipino community.
The grandmother of two is a member of the Hectorville Parish Pastoral Council, former international director of the Walkerville Rotary Club and with her husband Leon is a coordinator of Couples for Christ Global Mission – Answering the Cry of the Poor (ANCOP).
Her contribution to the local migrant and youth community earned her an Australia Day Achievement Award in 2017 and the same year she was invited to speak on education and poverty at the ATO’s TEDx Adelaide Conference.
“People see us now but it’s been a long journey, for me it’s a roller coaster, my husband has had Parkinson’s for 21 years…all these years, even when I was young, God has looked after me,” she said.
“What I wished for, what I dreamed of, He would give me.”
Juliet’s own education was not without obstacles. She walked 6kms to university because she couldn’t afford public transport and she sold snacks and tutored children to pay for tuition.
Graduating with a commerce degree, Juliet sat and passed her Certified Practicing Accountancy Board exam in the Philippines and completed her Master of Business Administration while working as an auditor in government departments. It was during this period that she witnessed “the corruption that kills the hope of the people”. (She later completed her Master of Taxation at the University of New South Wales).
In 1985 her sister Evelyn married a Greek-Australian and settled in Port Pirie, South Australia. Evelyn eventually persuaded Juliet and her family to join her. After four months of trying to find work in Port Pirie Juliet gained employment with ETSA in Adelaide where she worked for nine years and in 2000 she joined the ATO.
The family moved into their “dream home” in Highbury in 2007 and five years ago Juliet and Leo purchased a large property in Hectorville and developed it as four homes for themselves and their three children.
In her journey to escape poverty, Juliet said she realised that “though I can have the best house, the best car, the most luxurious amenities and all other good indicators of success, if I don’t have God, then there is no real satisfaction in life”.
She said every time she was at a crossroads, she “prayed, prayed, prayed” and put her trust in God.
In speaking about God’s intervention in her life to other people, she was encouraged to write her memoirs.
Raised Up was published in 2018, with profits going to Answering the Cry of the Poor (ANCOP) which has projects in the Philippines and the Pacific Islands.
Last year ANCOP raised $500,000 nationally through a virtual fun run for people living in poverty and needing assistance with education, housing and employment.
“Couples for Christ is about building the church of the home and the church of the poor,” Juliet said.
In the book, she explains how an incident where her son’s basketball bounced over the back fence introduced the family to her neighbor, Neil Hayter, who invited them to participate in a 12-week Christian Life Program. They then joined Couples for Christ Global Mission, a decision which Juliet believes “transformed their lives”.
“Our family home became open to those who needed help, those who had nowhere to stay, or those who simply needed advice,” she writes in the book.
“By opening our home, we learned so much from those who come from various walks of life. We met nurses, engineers, electricity linesmen, teachers, doctors and international students.”
The Navarros are also grateful for the support they received from the Holy Trinity Prayer Group which they joined shortly after arriving in Adelaide.
Through this group, which comprised 50 families at its peak, they have made lifelong friends who help each other out in times of need, such as when Leon was struck with Parkinson’s disease.
“In blessing us with true friends, God gave us an opportunity to pay it forward by sending us people whom we can support and be friends with,” she writes.
“It is through the dynamics of receiving and giving blessings in our Filipino community that we are able to grow in faith with others.”
Raised Up is available as an e-book or printed copy at www.julietnavarro.comJump to next article