In August and September, 2012, Aware worked in partnership with the New Hope Foundation to deliver Creative Sparks, an art project with children from refugee backgrounds aged 5 – 10 years. This March we will be conducting a 5 week project focusing on participants aged 12-15, with the aim of increasing access to expressive outlets and building self-esteem. We wanted to share with you some comments about our Karen participants written by our friends at New Hope Foundation.
Project participants are from the Karen community. The Karen people are from the Karen State in Southern Burma, yet some of the participants in the program were born in refugee camps on the Thai Burma border or even in Australia. Karen people have been fleeing Burma since the mid 1980s due to Burmese military oppression and killings of the Karen people. Consequently an estimated one million people from different ethnic groups in Burma have been forced to flee to neighbouring countries, and an estimated 600,000 people have been internally displaced.
The Karen people have predominantly settled in Australia through the Australian Governments humanitarian settlement program. A growing population of the Karen community live in the Western suburbs of Melbourne. The New Hope Foundation provides settlement support to newly arrived refugees and migrants during their first five years in Australia.
The Karen people are warm and humble. They are proactive and open and a joy to work with.