Newly formed association ready to welcome Syrian refugees to region
AS NSW prepares for the influx of 12,000 Syrian refugees, a Blacktown group is ready to welcome the new arrivals.
The NSW Syrian Community Association officially formed on January 5, and is supported by Blacktown’s SydWest Multicultural Services.
Most of the refugees will be settled in western Sydney at the end of the month.
The association comprises Syrian refugees who now live in western Sydney, and will offer services such as English classes, homework assistance and driving lessons.
Many members, such as president Hala Hendawi, who left Syria to seek a new life in Australia three years ago, understand the struggles of adjusting to life in a new country.
“As soon as I landed here, I felt so safe because this country has embraced me,” Mrs Hendawi said.
“Most of us have had a long, hard journey to freedom and we want to pass on this experience to the new arrivals.
“We also want to teach the refugees the laws of this country and help them settle into Australian culture.”
Mrs Hendawi hoped the wider Australian community could sympathise with their situation before judging the newcomers fleeing the ISIS regime.
“Imagine losing your home, all your belongings and even your family or children,” she said.
“These people, if given the choice, would rather stay in their homes in Syria, but they can’t. They want free- dom and not having to live in a war zone where anyone can be killed. I feel we need to put ourselves in their shoes and help them out.”
Mrs Hendawi believed what the Syrians needed to find in Australia was a social life and support to connect with a new culture.
– Jessica Oxford