Many of the 32 refugees who visited Luna Park with SSI staff and volunteers in April had never been to a theme park in their life. But thanks to Mission of Hope, which donated tickets to SSI for the refugees it supports, these families had more fun than they’d had in a long time.
Recently arrived refugees on their Luna Park excursion with SSI staff and volunteers.
“Due to the war in Syria, we could not enjoy many things such as theme parks and fun activities,” said Zuhair Meri Mezban Al-Khameesi, who had a smile as big as the iconic theme park’s entrance.
But the trip also had a practical element: SSI staff and volunteers met families at Liverpool, Fairfield and Blacktown train stations, and then used the journey as a chance to show the new arrivals to Australia around Sydney. Through this fun excursion, the SSI staff and volunteers could and teach the group how to use public transport, including ticket machines and the transport info line.
“For most of the group, the trip to Milsons Point was their first time to the city, so they were happy to be greeted by the iconic views of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House,” said Shashika Peeligama, SSI Life Skills Program Team Leader.
At Luna Park, they were welcomed by people from Mission of Hope, who provided the group with packs that included access to all the rides, plus food and drink vouchers. The packages had been kindly donated to Mission of Hope by Luna Park to distribute as they saw fit.
“The clients spent more than four hours enjoying all the rides and playing games,” Ms Peeligama said. “It was wonderful seeing them all so happy and relaxed.
“One of the SSI volunteers, who is of the same background as many of the clients, pointed out to SSI staff that it’s the early resettlement days that families remember the most, and so it’s wonderful they had the opportunity to share such a joyful and memorable day.”
When it was time to head home, two of the families were having so much fun that they stayed, assuring SSI staff that they now felt confident enough to make their own way home.
For those who headed back to the train station with SSI staff – this time on the ferry – they had as much fun on the boat as they did on the rides.