Meet five former refugees who now call Australia home

Meet five former refugees who now call Australia home

Meet five former refugees who now call Australia home

Posted 18 June 2014, 9:57 AEST

When you are no longer able to live in your home country, what does it mean to 'restore hope?' 

June 20 is World Refugee Day. In Australia, the day is extended into Refugee Week, which is a celebration of the contribution refugees make to the community. It is also an opportunity to raise important issues related to refugees and migration.

The Victorian city of Geelong is 75km south west of Melbourne with a population of approximately 220,000. In the past ten years it has become home to around 400 asylum seekers and 1500 people from a refugee background, a figure which does not include people from the former Yugoslavia. 

Five former refugees living in Geelong speak about the 2012-2014 Refugee Week theme, 'Restoring Hope.'

Maw Poad, Myanmar
Maw Poad, Myanmar
Bethany Keats (ABC)
“We can’t live in my country...I am Karenni.”

Maw Poad is from Myanmar's Karenni minority and came to Australia in 2009 because she is unable to live in her home country. It is hard for her in Australia because her lack of English makes it difficult to find work. Her hope is that she will be able to get a job.
Atim Tabitha, South Sudan
Atim Tabitha, South Sudan
Bethany Keats (ABC)
“We ran from Sudan to Uganda...they came and killed 140 Sudanese refugees in Uganda. Then we see the place is not safe and we went to another camp...it’s not easy to be a refugee.”

Atim was in a refugee camp when she met an Australian missionary and married him. She says that although she came to Australia as a migrant, rather than a refugee, she feels the same as a refugee because she has been one and it's not easy. Atim moved around refugee camps a lot and recalls murders of Sudanese refugees. Her daughter's name is Hope.
Hai Du, Vietnam
Hai Du, Vietnam
Bethany Keats (ABC)
“I’m happy here because there is freedom.”

Hai came to Australia 19 years ago and was the last member of her family to migrate. She says she is happy in Australia because there is freedom here.
Anisa Atef, Afghanistan
Anisa Atef, Afghanistan
Bethany Keats (ABC)
“We travelled a few villages in Afghanistan first, walked through the mountain, desert, rivers and it was very tough and very scary.”

Anisa came to Australia in 1986 after fleeing Afghanistan in 1985. She came via Pakistan with the help of the United Nations and she feels that her experience is different to those who are fleeing Afghanistan now because she didn't go through refugee camps or detention. When Anisa arrived, there was no Afghan community in Geelong but now the older refugees try to help the new arrivals. Her hope is for the refugees in detention centres to be released.
Jean Pierre Byamungu, The Democratic Republic of the Congo
Jean Pierre Byamungu, The Democratic Republic of the Congo
Bethany Keats (ABC)
“When I see my life here [it] is good and because my children feel good, everyone feel good ...I think my future is very good because my children will learn [at] good schools.”

Jean Pierre was in a refugee camp in Malawi and came to Australia with his wife and children. He says that life in Australia is good because his children are able to attend school and he and his wife are learning English. Jean Pierre says refugee week is good for him because it enables him to remember where he has come from and to think about his life here.

 

Refugee Week 2014 is from June 15 to 21. Refugee Day is June 20.