Shared con­nec­tion

Hills Gazette - - OPINION -

REFUGEES shared with school­child­ren their ex­pe­ri­ences of hav­ing to leave their home­land for re­li­gious or po­lit­i­cal rea­sons and re­set­tle in a new coun­try.

A group of women from Iran, Afghanistan and So­ma­lia re­cently wore their na­tional dress to visit the ju­nior and se­nior school cam­puses of Helena Col­lege in Glen For­rest.

Kindy and pre-pri­mary chil­dren lis­tened to sto­ries of cul­ture and her­itage, and there was time to learn an Ira­nian dance from their vis­i­tors.

Some of the refugees only re­cently ar­rived while oth­ers have lived in Aus­tralia for some time.

The fol­low­ing day, the women spoke with older groups of stu­dents and ini­ti­ated con­ver­sa­tions with them to make the learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence more mem­o­rable.

Year 8 stu­dent Jess Kauf­mann said the women ex­plained how it felt to leave the coun­try of their birth and leave fam­ily and friends.

“I imag­ine it would have been hor­ri­ble, as the women had to pro­tect their fam­ily and chil­dren,” she said.

El­iz­a­beth Zu­ber-Watts, also in Year 8, said the women were Pic­tures: Chris Jef­frey, Helena Col­lege

brave to share the hor­rific events of their escape to free­dom.

“One refugee ex­plained how she was hid­ing with her two chil­dren in the desert with­out food or water,” she said.

“No one can imag­ine the pain they were forced to go through.”

The visit was or­gan­ised by Helena Col­lege’s Sally Herzfeld who is a vol­un­teer with Women To­gether, a group from the Ed­mund Rice Cen­tre in Mirra­booka.

The group is a so­cial hub for newly-ar­rived women with refugee and mi­grant back­grounds to meet other women.

Ms Herzfeld said though some of the women have lived in Aus­tralia for up to 20 years, it was painful for them to talk about leav­ing their home­lands.

Helena Col­lege stu­dents Chloe Sta­menich (mid­dle) and Ne­veah Casey (right corner) with Narges and Faeze Ghor­ba­nian.

Stu­dents Kiah Wat­son (left) and El­iz­a­beth Zu­ber-Watts (right) with Shahla Haidary and Par­vaneh Haidary.

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