Salvos helps lift Bien out of debt


Irresponsible lending has been a hot topic of late, and none more so than for one young man who turned to The Salvation Army for help.

Twenty-year-old Congolese-born Bien Simba, whose family arrived in Newcastle after spending time in a refugee camp in Kenya, was roped into a seven-year loan for a $19,000 ute, over which the repayments would have amounted to $48,000.

“It was probably the swiftest [car] transaction we’ve ever seen,” The Salvation Army’s Moneycare Financial Counselling regional manager, Kristen Hartnett, said.
“He was told if he didn’t buy the car today, it would be gone tomorrow, as if there was only one car on the lot.
“Then he moved straight from the salesman to the broker, who, when the big banks correctly rejected Bien’s credit application, then went to a second-tier lender.
“It should have never been approved. They grossly misrepresented Bien’s assets, income and living expenses.”
Things quickly turned sour for Bien, who couldn’t keep up with the repayments and found himself drowning in debt.
“I was going to work, still making money, but not having enough money for myself,” he said.

What’s more is, three months later, the car broke down, costing a further $9,000 in mechanical repairs.

“Here’s a young man who, like any typical 20-year-old – male or female – was drawn to the idea of having a new car,” Ms Hartnett added.
“Unfortunately it was a case of irresponsible lending, and it can happen to anyone. Some of us have the cash reserves to ride that out; some of us have family and friends to call on, but many of us don’t. That’s where Moneycare comes in.”

Moneycare, as Ms Hartnett told the audience at the 2019 Red Shield Appeal launch last Friday when she shared Bien’s story, is The Salvation Army’s financial literacy program, and it can be accessed by anyone, on any income level, who finds themselves in financial difficulty.

It’s one of the organisation’s many welfare programs the Red Shield Appeal helps fund, and one which will continue to emotionally and legally support Bien while his case is with the Financial Ombudsman Service.

When you give generously to the Red Shield Appeal doorknock this Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 May, you’re helping to bankroll programs like Moneycare as well as homelessness and natural disaster relief.

This year, you’ll also see doorknockers on board the Newcastle Light Rail and ferry network, with the support of the city’s transport provider, Keolis Downer.

Go to for more information or to donate.

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