An unlikely friendship  

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Townsville student Raghu Sachdeva finds himself a new job – and an entire family as new friends

Townsville’s Raghu Sachdeva shares a unique friendship with his employer Emma Lynam.

What’s special about this bond, you ask?

Emma has Downs Syndrome and mild autism, and is hearing-impaired.

Raghu Sachdev.Indian Link
Emma Lynam and Raghu Sachdev

She hired Raghu, her first employee, just over a month ago to help her in her business Master Shredder, which shreds documents for clients.

Raghu, 25, is currently pursuing his MBA at James Cook University.

“I drive Emma to her clients’ premises, and set up her shredding equipment which weighs around 100 kilos,” Raghu told Indian Link. “Once she is done with her work, I drive her back home. I keep a tab on the hours she works and generate her invoices.”

Raghu found the job advertised on campus. The ad asked for an assistant for a differently-abled woman, who would be able to work with her family and support circle. Raghu was quite keen on this job, as he was still looking at building up his confidence in a new society with his recent move to Australia. He was also missing his family back in Amritsar, Punjab, and the family-centric nature of the job appealed to him.

Emma’s mum, Jo Lynam, sifted through the applicants.

She told Indian Link, “I saw something in Raghu’s application that I immediately liked. We invited him for afternoon tea on the Sunday so that our two sons could meet him. On this occasion I noticed that Emma sat beside Raghu and seemed at ease with him. When I asked Emma who she liked she indicated Raghu. I had explained to Raghu that due to her autism it would probably take Emma a long time to be comfortable with him, but to my absolute amazement she was happy to start working with him very quickly.”

Raghu Sachdev.Indian Link

Raghu’s work day begins at 9.30am and goes until 12.30pm, depending on Emma’s clients, Monday – Thursday. Once he sees her off at a client’s, he then hits the library and completes his assignments.

Jo tells us that Emma was born with a cleft palate, so she has very little speech, which is very difficult to understand. Sign language is her primary form of communication but she does also use an iPad which has a communication app on it that can speak for her.

“Initially sign language was a bit difficult, but with the support of her family, I have learnt how to communicate with Emma,” Raghu revealed.

How is Raghu informed when he is supposed to pick up Emma?

“Emma calls and says ‘now’.”

Working alongside Emma has been inspirational for Raghu. “I feel energetic and motivated,” he said. “Emma has taught me punctuality and through her I have learnt that whatever problem you are faced with, you can overcome it if you try – don’t quit, but keep moving on.”

Raghu has created a tremendous impact on Emma’s life too. Jo observed, “Raghu is more like a member of the family rather than an employee. We have taken advantage of the long weekends by planning family picnics where Emma was very keen to invite Raghu too. Raghu is a genuinely beautiful young man with an open mind and a gentle heart. I believe Emma has picked up on these qualities.”

As for Raghu himself, it is clear that he is keen to work hard while he is here as a student, and contribute to the society that has offered him the chance to raise his station in life.

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