It was the small NILS loans that made a big difference to single mum of three, Donna Cleeland, following the emotional, physical and financial abuse she experienced at the hands of her ex-husband.
Married in 2002, Donna, a qualified teacher, imagined a different life for herself with her husband. After setbacks falling pregnant, she gave up work to concentrate on having a baby. The violence started soon after her first child, with a frightened Donna regularly calling the Police and taking out intervention orders against him.
To add to her trauma, two out of Donna’s three children, now 11, 12 and 14 were diagnosed with a life-threatening condition called Long QT Syndrome, a genetic disease that has resulted in heart conditions, physical abnormalities and many stays in the hospital.
Her ex-husband left while she was pregnant with her third child.
While it was a relief he had left, Donna said with no access to the bank accounts and no job, she had minimal funds to provide for her children’s expensive medical costs and day-to-day living expenses.
“When my husband left, he wouldn’t pay child support so I had to figure out how to survive on my own,” Donna said.
“As time went by after my husband left, I was wiped of everything and I couldn’t even purchase petrol on our fuel account to transport the children around.
“Through Cockatoo NILS, that’s when I found out about the No Interest Loans Scheme.
“When I got my first NILS loan, it felt like Christmas.”
Over the years, Donna has accessed five NILS loans up to $2,000 to pay for items such as a washing machine, car repairs and medical expenses – paying them all back on time.
“A few years ago, my washing machine broke down and I couldn’t afford a new one for 12 months. In that time, I would take the dirty washing once a fortnight to a laundromat to clean,” Donna said.
When Donna was slowly getting back on her feet, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. That’s when the depression set in.
“I did the right thing by taking out private health insurance only to find it didn’t cover things like Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and medical consultants,” Donna said.
“To other people, when something like a washing machine breaks down, it’s not a big deal, but when it follows major life complications, it adds to the pressure.
“I feel so grateful there’s something like NILS available for people like me; I don’t know what I would have done without the help NILS was able to provide me and my young children.”
NILS, a safer alternative to rent-to-buy agreements or payday loans is available to people on low incomes Australia-wide.
Good Shepherd Microfinance is the provider of the No Interest Loans Scheme (NILS), a safe, fair and affordable loan option.