The real people behind the R-word: Refugee Week
Last week, Spectrum hosted a packed-out Refugee Week lunch for clients and staff of the Hume Community Hub in Dallas. Attendees enjoyed a variety of traditional cuisines and cultural performances and, importantly, had the chance to hear some of the stories of those who have experienced life as a refugee.
One of the speakers and a former Syrian refugee, Samia Khochaba, sat down with us to share what Refugee Week means to her and how important community events have been in helping her feel safe and comfortable here in Australia.
“At first when I arrived in Australia I was ashamed to be a refugee – it is not a nice name to be called – but now I no longer feel ashamed,” Mrs Khochaba said. “At events like this, I know I am part of this community. I am safe and I do what I can to give back to the community.”
“I was scared to go out at the start. Spectrum was my first safe zone. They helped me learn English, get work and not be scared. They believed in me. Now I volunteer with Spectrum one day each week because I know it is important not just to take, but to give.”
“I want to tell all the refugees you are lucky. Appreciate everything. Open your heart. If you close it – if you stay away – you will be alone always.”
Founder of the Hume Afghan Association and former refugee Saleha Talash also spoke with us about the social isolation she experienced when settling into Australian life.
“The first six months was very hard for me, because I didn’t know about events like this. It helps us make friends. My best friend is from Nepal and we hang out all the time. Spectrum helped me a lot,” Ms Talash said.
“Today, we feel like we are in our own country. We feel like we are at home. I wish everyday could be like this. My advice to refugees is, try and see the similarities between cultures, not the differences. We always try to see the differences but if we see the similarities we can connect.”
For more information on Spectrum’s range of social activities, check our events page.