Changing lives, changing perceptions: Young refugees from the Treehouse Theatre perform for Katoomba High
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.
BMRSG Helps – From Trauma to Work Opportunities
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.
Ocean 12 defeats the Navy on ANZAC Day 2018
Did you know the Tamils fought alongside the ANZAC’s at Gallipoli? I attended my first Tamil ANZAC service a few years ago and was very moved by the spirit of ANZAC being so richly acknowledged in the Tamil community. This year I once again had the privilege to attend this function. It embraced the Christian, Islamic and Hindu religion. The reading of Psalm 23 by a young Tamil man was breathtaking and the Australian Anthem was sung beautifully (including the second verse) . Siva, a member of Ocean 12 Cricket Team lay a wreath alongside various dignitaries. There were about 300 people at the service. This was followed by the cricket game between Ocean 12 and the Navy.
Look Mum! I can swim.
Seven weeks ago we started our third term of the asylum seeker swimming program. Each week this very enthusiastic group of youngsters with their mums and dads arrive at the Blacktown Aquatic Centre for their “extended “ swimming lesson. These lessons are thanks to BMRSG supporters and the terrific volunteers.
BMRSG Works – Christmas Present from Blaxland High School Students
The joy of giving and the satisfaction of being involved in a worthwhile project coincided recently. Chris Cather and Hugh Clarke, Year 9 students at Blaxland High School, helped prevent a much loved but ageing Nissan Pulsar from going to the wreckers and instead turned it into a treasure for a low income refugee. Chris and Hugh together with teacher Shaun Halden, grabbed the opportunity to give the car a new life. This was exactly what Sarah Emerson and her son, Owen, had in mind when they gifted the car to Blaxland High School for use in the Metal and Automotive program for Years 9 and 10
BMRSG Works – Even more shoeboxes this year
In this the 3rd year of the Youth Shoebox Project even more were received. More than 203 were delivered to children and young people seeking refuge and asylum. This project is a joint effort with Mountains Youth Services Team (MYST) and Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group (BMRSG) - working together to spread love and support.
Farewell to the wonderful Kath
Mountain Activist off to Bourke Bourke has gained a treasure, while the Blue Mountains, especially the Refugee Support Group Detention Centre visiting team, have lost Kath Sneddon, one of their great stalwarts. Refugees in Sydney have lost a great advocate. Kath’s cheerful energy has lightened many a depressing day at the Villawood Detention Centre while her home cooking and great free range stuffed eggs were a great favourite with home sick refugees stuck in indefinite detention – until Minister Dutton’s Border Force decided home cooked food was a security risk!
Work of BMRSG – Swimming Lessons
Every Tuesday 14 asylum seeker children arrive at Blacktown Aquatic Centre for their swimming lesson. It’s such a happy day for everyone. Not only are the children taking part in the Aus Swim program they are enjoying the social interaction with each other. This program is thanks to the donations of all those through Local Hero.
So, such great news. Aiesha called and was so overwhelmed by the news. She kept saying “Thank you, thank you” - crying at times – “We couldn’t have achieved this without your Group’s help”. Wonderful news! A couple with two children applied for a Safe Haven Enterprise Visa (SHEV) and BMRSG assisted them with their legal costs. They were terrified of being deported back to danger. They had their interview with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection about five weeks ago and today they received a letter saying that their application had been approved.