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Displaced family find sanctuary

Enjoying their new lives in Lismore after being forced to flee the Democratic Republic of Congo are Jean Claude Mapatano and with his wife Djidji Sanvura, with their 10-month-old son Daniel and Ms Sanvura’s three siblings (rear, from left) Yves, 17, Anuarite, 16, and Guershom, 17.
Enjoying their new lives in Lismore after being forced to flee the Democratic Republic of Congo are Jean Claude Mapatano and with his wife Djidji Sanvura, with their 10-month-old son Daniel and Ms Sanvura’s three siblings (rear, from left) Yves, 17, Anuarite, 16, and Guershom, 17. David Nielsen

A REFUGEE support group is preparing to welcome a new African family to Lismore.

Sanctuary Northern Rivers will help the mum, dad and baby settle into the area after their escape from the grim Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya.

More Congolese families, and one from Rwanda, are expected in coming weeks, and Sanctuary is looking for settlement volunteers to help the arrivals adjust to their new life in a strange country.

“We need a dozen or so people as back-up,” board member Katherine Morrison said.

Sanctuary raises the airfares to bring people with UN-registered refugee status from Africa, arranges their accommodation, then helps introduce them to their new lives.

There are ‘a million’ little differences in lifestyle, according tovolunteer Julie Webb, which include basics such as an introduction to hot running water.

Ms Webb said it was time-consuming but ‘fantastically rewarding’ work.

She has helped settle two large families in the nine months she has worked with Sanctuary and says they were all doing very well.

Jean Claude Mapatano and his wife Djidji Sanvura, their baby, and Djidji’s three siblings have all adjusted smoothly.

Both Mr Mapatano and his wife go to TAFE to study English, and in his case trying to gain qualifications as a nurse/carer.

The three teenagers attend Trinity Catholic College in Lismore, which Ms Webb said had been ‘wonderfully welcoming’.

The youngsters had swimming lessons to help adapt to Aussie life, and are enjoying school so much they can’t understand why they had to have summer holidays.

Sanctuary has settled about 160 Africans in the past few years. Following a training course at TAFE last year, a new group at Mullumbimby has formed to help settle refugees there.

The organisation will hold an informal education evening for new volunteers at the Workers Club in Lismore at 6pm tonight.

HOW SHOULD WE WELCOME NEW REFUGEES TO OUR AREA?

SMS 0428 264 948 or email opinions@northernstar.com.au



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