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04 May 2016


Sydney students lend their voices to refugees and people seeking asylum

The impressive effort saw the students of Bethlehem College host a refugee and asylum seeker awareness evening in April that raised $1,225 for Settlement Services International (SSI).

The funds will go towards SSI’s Community Engagement program, which creates opportunities for refugees and people seeking asylum to connect with members of the broader community and people who are in similar circumstances to themselves.

The students organised an evening that featured cultural music and dance, henna artists, and presentations from well-known author Benjamin Law and SSI’s own Mohammad Omary and Youth Projects Coordinator Dor Akech Achiek, who are both former refugees.

One of the student organisers, Naome Rusera, said Bethlehem College had participated in social justice events for many years and had found out about SSI through a teacher, who encouraged the students to get involved with Community Kitchen.

“First it was helping out in the kitchen, then face painting for the kids and henna. The visits grew with more girls wanting to volunteer. SSI provided us with an opportunity to involve ourselves in a real community with a real cause. However, we wanted to do more,” she said.

“It was here that our vision for hosting a large event grew in the hopes of sharing experiences and stories of what it is really like to be of refugee origin. We were lucky to have the support of our school, parents, friends and SSI.”

SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis said the Bethlehem College students had been incredibly dedicated in their support for refugees and people seeking asylum.

“The enthusiasm and resourcefulness these students displayed in planning and coordinating the logistical challenge of a large fundraising event deserve acknowledgement,” she said.

“If these young women are any indication of the broader Australian youth, the future looks bright for refugees and people seeking asylum in Australia. I applaud their commitment to human rights.”

Ms Roumeliotis thanked the school for hosting the event, along with all the friends and family who participated in the fundraiser.

“The generosity of the entire Bethlehem College community has been astounding, and SSI is lucky to count them among our supporters,” she said.

Anyone who was unable to attend the event but would like to donate can visit Bethlehem College’s fundraising page.

Bethlehem College is one of a number of supporters using new SSI’s Everyday Hero platform, which enables members of the public to fundraise for SSI’s support programs and initiatives for vulnerable families and individuals. People can now fundraise using the platform by participating in organised events, such as fun runs, or by hosting their own events, such as trivia nights, morning teas or sausage sizzles.

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