The Macquarie Globe
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World Refugee Day

World Refugee Day was held this week to celebrate the courage of refugees around the globe.  

The UNHCR recognises June 20 as a time to reflect on the millions of people each year who are forced to leave their homes. 

At Macquarie, the Australian League of Immigration Volunteers (ALIV), held a barbeque to fundraise for families in immigration detention centres.

Sarah* came to Australia as a refugee in 1986. She was 20 years old, and had spent two years in a South East Asian refugee camp.

Her father was a civil servant and was imprisoned when her country underwent a regime change. “He was sent to a labour (prison) camp for six years, and when he was released we escaped. We were terrified they’d pick him up anytime and send him back.”


Raising money for kids on World Refugee Day

Sarah and her mother escaped to a neighbouring country using tourist visas, but her father, brother and cousin had to escape by boat. All their possessions fitted in one small bag each. 

She says, “Even in the refugee camp nothing was safe. It was like another prison - you are seen as people who have illegally entered their country.”

The camp was crowded and food and water were strictly rationed. “We spent two years in a camp - that was fast - some people had spent five or ten years hanging on to the hope that ‘one day I will go to another country’.”

The family was very happy to come to Australia, and have built a new life in western Sydney. Sarah has studied at university, and her parents have found new jobs. But the refugee experience has left its scars. “Sometimes you don’t fit in anywhere. Back home they don’t see me as a local person, but Australians don’t quite see me as a local either.”
The Australian League of Immigration Volunteers (ALIV) runs a Kids Room, with games and activities, and organises excursions for children in immigration detention centres. All money raised on World Refugee Day will go towards offering the children better experiences around Sydney.

*Name has been changed