Settlement Services International (SSI) is taking part in the iconic City2Surf running event, with dozens of staff, volunteers and supporters joining the cause to support refugees and people seeking asylum in NSW.
This August, a team of SSI employees and people seeking asylum will undertake the 14km run from Sydney’s CBD to Bondi Beach. Supporting the team will be everyday fundraising heroes like SSI case manager Rayila Maimaiti, whose friends and supporters are donating to sponsor her run.
Ms Maimaiti was motivated to participate from her experience working with people seeking asylum, who often face ongoing uncertainty about their future in Australia.
“It’s a great way for different communities to work together for a good cause. If one thing affects one person, of course it directly or indirectly affects all of us,” she said.
The Uyghur-born case manager draws on her own experience of moving to a new country to better support the people seeking asylum with whom she works.
“It’s quite difficult coming from a very different background. You have to adjust to a different culture, language, surroundings, friendships — everything is very different,” she said.
“None of my family members are here but I do have quite a few good friends and they have supported me when I was in difficult times. I think that kind of support is very important for migrants, refugees and asylum seekers.”
Ms Maimaiti believes it’s also important to support refugees and people seeking asylum through fundraising initiatives such as the City2Surf.
“The prosperity of a society relies on different types of people working together, respecting each other and helping each other in difficult times. Asylum seekers and refugees are very vulnerable in many ways and they need some sort of support and assistance,” Ms Maimaiti said.
SSI’s City2Surf team is aiming to raise $10,000 for SSI’s Community Engagement program, which organises events and activities that give refugees and people seeking asylum opportunities to connect with others in similar situations and build a sense of belonging.
“I would definitely encourage anyone considering it to join our team and support SSI, because we do work with a lot of very vulnerable communities. Supporting SSI will directly help the people we work with and make Australia a better place,” Ms Maimaiti said.