Rainbow help for refugees

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By TESSA JOHNSTONE

James Minota Bermudez, 12, used to get into fights when other kids called him names. Now he walks away.

James, from Colom­bia, was one of nine year 7 and 8 stu­dents at Bishop Viard Col­lege who has com­pleted a five- week pro­gramme for stu­dents who are for­mer refugees.

The Rainbow pro­gramme, run by Refugee Trauma Re­cov­ery, works through some of the chal­lenges of set­tling into a new coun­try.

It aims to build their con­fi­dence, of­ten us­ing ac­tiv­i­ties like crafts and draw­ing to talk about feel­ings.

James, or Ju­nior, said it was ‘‘re­ally cool’’ be­cause he made friends and learned not to be shy, but also learned not to re­act with vi­o­lence when kids made racist re­marks.

His mum, Diana Bermudez, said the pro­gramme had been great for her son.

‘‘He’s more quiet now – he was very full-on, very ac­tive. It’s good for him to be qui­eter,’’ she said.

Yuri Sog­amoso, 13, also from Colom­bia, said she liked ev­ery­thing about it.

‘‘I love to share this ex­pe­ri­ence with all my friends, with other chil­dren.’’

Teacher Lois Burns said the school would now be look­ing at dif­fer­ent ways it could support its stu­dents who have refugee back­grounds.

Photo: TESSA JOHNSTONE

Keen learn­ers: The grad­u­ates of Bishop Viard’s Rainbow pro­gramme, which sup­ports for­mer refugees at the school to build their con­fi­dence. From left, back row: Jhon Cu­bides Or­donez, Ma Ma Anas, Seng Hpraw La Hpai, Yuri Fa­jardo Sog­amoso, and Skiya La. Front, Daniel Cortez Guer­rero, Nei­der Ce­balles Ro­drigues, Ja Hta Pan N-Hkum and Ju­nior Minota Bermudez.

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