First of a series of posts on some of the wide range of people who make up Blue Mountains Support Group Inc. Our promotion says ""Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group Inc is a diverse group of ordinary Australians from all sides of politics....We are all volunteers." Some of our most enthusiastic supporters are young people. Read two accounts of young people who are helping; the Automotive Studies students at Blaxland High School and Sam who raised over $1100 by running in the City to Surf 2018.
In this speech given at the Palm Sunday Rally for Refugees, Richard Flanagan says we are better than our politicians’ dark fears
History was made Friday morning when the Tibetan flag was raised outside Blue Mountains Council chambers at Katoomba. It is the first time in Australia a Tibetan flag has been flown outside a local council chamber. The small but vocal Tibetan community cheered and sang their national song as Dhongdue Kyinzom, a member of the Tibetan parliament-in-exile and Cr Kerry Brown did the honours.
A positive warm hearted story of a need identified by one of the BMRSG Community visitors, of a family in a house with no furniture and a new baby still in hospital, a timely offer of furniture and a feat or organisation by a number of BMRSG volunteers. #BMRSGHelps
Blue Mountains locals were welcomed to a traditional Tibetan cultural celebration to commemorate the 14th Dalai Lama’s 83rd birthday last Friday at the old library in Katoomba. The event gave exiled Tibetans living in the Blue Mountains an opportunity to thank the Blue Mountains community and celebrate the Dalai Lama’s birthday with the taste, colour, music and dance of Tibet. There are approximately 50 Tibetan adults and children living in the Blue Mountains and many arrived in Australia on humanitarian visas. All of them are refugees or children of refugees who fled Tibet after the Chinese occupation in 1950 and made the long trek over the Himalayas to reach safety in Nepal. The first Tibetan refugee settled in Katoomba nine years ago and others arrived after the Dalai Lama visited the Blue Mountains in 2015. In the last six months some families have arrived directly from India on humanitarian visas. Ms Dhongdue praised the local community saying that Tibetan refugees had been ‘embraced with warmth and love’.
Refugee students from Miller Technology High in Cabramatta, Sydney, shared their life stories in a Tree of Life performance for Katoomba High School on Wednesday 19 June. The students, from war-torn Iraq and Syria, were part of Parramatta’s Treehouse Theatre that provides a platform for young refugees to act out their stories of plight. The young refugees, aged between 12 and 17, performed in front of 700 Katoomba High School students and their teachers. None of them had been in Australia longer than 2 years, with one arriving only 8 months ago.
A little more than a year ago two members of BMRSG met with Aasha (not her real name) who had escaped a horrific situation in India with the help of friends. Once she arrived in Australia she applied for asylum. Aasha was being supported by a STARTTS counsellor, her rent was mostly being paid by a leading charity which aids refugees, so BMRSG agreed to pay her $60 per week towards the rent plus $20 for her ongoing medications and fares. A few months later the charity said they were no longer able to pay Aasha’s rent. So, it appeared Aasha would be on the streets.
Latha and Bobbi arrived in 2013 and since that time they have established their new life by working, education and training and created a vegetable with two small children. This is a story of how one couple has managed to survive and thrive despite the difficulties that Australia places in front of those seeking asylum. Refugees do contribute.