Journeys of hope inspire true stories at refugee week

After arriving in Australia from Guinea, Yarrie Bangura never thought she would, in a few years, be the star of the Baulkham Hills African Ladies dance troupe and an ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Putting it down to her zeal for life and her love of peace, she launched Australia’s International Refugee Week, giving the keynote speech titled Restoring Hope.

”My life before Australia wasn’t pleasant,” Bangura said. ”It was full of horror and fear and poverty. I came here for a fresh beginning and with me brought a passion for preaching peace, a passion for non-violence and a passion of bringing people together. I found a new opportunity right there in front of me.”

Organised by the Refugee Council of Australia, Refugee Week is Australia’s peak annual activity to raise awareness and celebrate refugees. This year’s theme is ”restoring hope”, symbolising that while a refugee’s journey begins with danger, it also begins with hope.

Ambassador for Refugee Week and owner of misschu, Nahji Chu, came to Australia as a refugee in 1978 when she was nine, after escaping the horrors of the Pathet Lao regime in Laos.

”Thank you, Australia, for having accepted me as a refugee,” she said. ”It’s changed my life profoundly. I would like to use myself and my business success as an example of how amazing Australia can be if it was as generous as it used to be … the land of opportunity that we were.

”Refugee Week is important as it is a time to celebrate and for Australians to understand the hard work migrants and refugees have put into Australia. What happens when you are a refugee is that you have a hunger to succeed and to work in order to prove yourself and a hunger to strive for a better life than what you came from.”

Chu herself is to run an Australian migrant-of-the-year competition, which she will announce on Thursday.

Hana Sadiq came to Australia from Iraq, following persecution for Christianity, to secure a safe future for her children. Winning the education category of the NSW Humanitarian Awards for her work with students and the parents at the Miller Intensive English Centre over the past 10 years, she says Refugee Week is a time when people can appreciate the effort refugees make to adjust.

”They come here often knowing no English,” Sadiq said. ”They quickly learn it, go through high school, complete university and get good jobs to help build the Australian future. I am proud seeing them contribute to the Australian community.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.