15 May 2019


Newly arrived refugees celebrate first Australian Mother’s Day

Newly arrived women celebrating their first Mothers Day at the Community Refugee Centre

The event was a special cross cultural event dedicated to mothers of all backgrounds, said HSP Orientation Team Leader Nahla Toma.

An Inner West community Elder opened the event with a greeting ― “Yammakarra” meaning welcome in the Ngiyambaa language, before inviting everyone to partake in a smoking ceremony.

As the women passed through the smoke of the burning leaves, they were encouraged to bless their mothers. 

Following this reflective moment, the women heard from SSI staff member Rahaf Alrifai, who herself came to Australia from Syria as a refugee.

She shared her story of life and integration into Australian society, with her greatest piece of advice being to try and find work in as soon as they feel confident.

“I feel independent. I feel I am doing something positive in society, and I can help you do the same,” said Rahaf.

Before a traditional lunch of rice, soup and salad was served, the women were treated to a performance by mother and daughter duo, Sura and Assel. They sang a series of songs in Turkish Arabic and Persian for the group, focusing around the theme of mothers and motherhood.

Other activities organised to treat the well-deserving mums included nail painting and henna, a raffle, face painting and balloon animals for the children.

The Refugee Welcome Centre is run in partnership between SSI’s HSP team, The Inner West Council, and Justice and Peace office of Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney.

SSI’s HSP team provides essential support and information to assist and empower refugees to gain independence and build strong connections in their new communities.

This event was funded through Inner West Community Wellbeing grant, with the aim of encouraging integration between new comers and Inner West locals.

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