Grateful for new life
UPROOTING an entire life in search of a better future can be a terrifying prospect.
Many migrant women in New Zealand struggle to find their voice – however a writing workshop in Auckland is trying to change that.
New Kiwi Women Fly has provided a platform for filmmaker Yamin Tun and women like her to share their experiences.
Tun has been a first-hand witness to the ‘‘harrowing’’ ordeals refugees face on a daily basis.
Those who have already made it to our shores ‘‘feel such a depth of gratitude’’, the Westmere woman says.
‘‘I have lived all over the world and I’ve been illegal, an asylum seeker, then a migrant and now I’m a citizen.’’
Tun was 2 years old when her family left Myanmar to escape the military government.
There were several years of jumping between the United Kingdom, Hong Kong and Europe before she arrived in New Zealand in 2007.
‘‘It was really hard for my dad to find stable employment. It was hard to have nothing.’’
Amnesty International New Zealand executive Grant Bayldon says we are not doing enough to help the world’s growing number of refugees.
‘‘New Zealand must step up and show leadership in the face of what is a growing refugee crisis, double its refugee intake and do more to protect the people fleeing violence,’’ he says.
The Government accepts 750 people into the country each year. Tun worked with non-governmental organisations in southern Italy before coming to New Zealand and knows the dangers refugees face.
‘‘I worked with the children of women who were enslaved by sex trafficking gangs.
‘‘The mothers have no rights because they’re illegal immigrants but the children, because they were born in Italy, were Italian citizens.’’
‘‘People do incredible things to make a life for themselves in the world. And sometimes they get exploited.’’
Those who have made it safely to new lands know how lucky they are, Tun says.
The New Kiwi Women Fly workshop is organised with funding from Auckland Council’s Creative Communities Scheme and encourages migrant women to write about their lives or
considered to write fiction.
A book New Flights has also been published as a result.
‘‘This particular book has people who have never written and have never had the chance to express their voice,’’ Tun says.
‘‘It’s quite an emotional process because a lot of the writing is incredibly personal.’’
have lived all over the world and I’ve been illegal, an asylum seeker, then a migrant and now I’m a citizen
It was a long road to New Zealand for film-maker Yamin Tun.