Grate­ful for new life

Central Leader - - NEWS - By ALAS­TAIR LYNN

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

Photo: ALAS­TAIR LYNN / FAIR­FAX NZ

It was a long road to New Zealand for film-maker Yamin Tun.

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