June 20 marks World Refugee Day and as part of Refugee Week Australians are being asked to reflect on the concept of ‘Restoring Hope’.
Restoring Hope reflects the fact that a refugee’s journey, whilst tainted with fear, also begins with belief, aspiration and hope.
Refugee Week 2013 is designed to raise awareness about the issues facing refugees whilst also providing a platform to celebrate the positive contributions made by refugees in Australian society.
Australia has become the permanent home to more than 750,000 refugees since Federation.
Refugee Week 2013 also hopes to highlight the need for developed countries to provide an environment conducive to enabling future refugees the opportunity to take advantage of the hopes and lives our societies provide.
Restoring Hope not only signifies the thematic undercurrent directing Refugee Week events across the country but also reflects the broader drive behind Aware’s work with Karen refugee children throughout the wider Melbourne community.
Karen refugees have been successfully resettled in Australia with Melbourne’s outer-Western region providing the backdrop for a growing Karen community. Karen people are continuously forced to flee Myanmar due to military oppression, discrimination and human rights violations. UNHCR estimates social upheaval and military rule has created 415,300 Burmese refugees with the total population for concern, including Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and asylum seekers, within Burma being estimated at 871,364 (UNHCR 2013).
At Aware we believe working within the Karen community, in partnership with the New Hope Foundation, through our Creative Sparks program helps newly settled refugee children to engage, develop and thrive within their new community whilst enabling them to creatively express themselves and build self-confidence.
Aware’s Creative Sparks program provides a safe, engaging and friendly environment for Karen children to explore their identities and creative expression, an activity often unknown to them previously with a high number of project participants having been born and raised within refugee settlements throughout Asia.
Restoring Hope not only signifies the theme of Refugee Week but also reflects Aware’s goal to assist in providing programs which enable Karen refugees to realise their new lives, hopes and ambitions in Australia.
To learn more about our Creative Sparks program click here.
More information about the New Hope Foundation can also be found here.
Written by Louella Fitzsimmons