Newly formed as­so­ci­a­tion ready to wel­come Syr­ian refugees to re­gion

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - NEWS -

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

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