Refugee Week, 16 -22 June, provides a wonderful opportunity for people around the world to celebrate the contribution refugees make to our society. It’s also a time to raise awareness, remembering and honouring the often-perilous journey that refugees have taken to reach Australia and other countries.
For many people, Refugee Week provides an opportunity to meet a refugee for the first time. This year’s theme for Refugee Week is A World of Stories which makes food the focus and asks you to “Share a meal, share a story…” With that in mind, the Refugee Council is encouraging businesses, community groups, schools, and individuals to hold a food event (breakfast, morning tea, dinner) where they can hear stories from this year’s Refugee Ambassadors, while sharing some of their favourite meals. This can be done by either inviting a refugee to your event, watching a video or listening to stories in other ways.
There’s a lot of information on the website and similar organisations around the world also provide advice. If you are planning an event in Western Australia, I can highly recommend the speakers bureau at the Youth Affairs Council of WA. For a modest fee, a young person is available to talk, share their story and answer questions.
There are many public events around the world for Refugee Week. If you do nothing else, take time on World Refugee Day on 20 June to look out for some stories such as this one about a woman whose parents came to Australia after the second world war.
Or you could buy a book. Behrouz Boochani’s book about his imprisonment on Manus Island No friend but the mountains is excellent, or They cannot take the sky, a collection of direct testimonies as stories, is also a thoughtful read. I have a suggested reading list on my website you may like to investigate.
I will be thinking about my new friends – those refugees who entrusted me with their stories, and the positive lives they have built for themselves here in Australia.