WELCOME: The Chapman family helped Amani (middle) prepare for life in Lismore by hiring him as their lodge gardener in Kenya. Craig Chapman is pictured left and son George, right.
WELCOME: The Chapman family helped Amani (middle) prepare for life in Lismore by hiring him as their lodge gardener in Kenya. Craig Chapman is pictured left and son George, right. Cathryn Mclauchlan

Family helped refugee prepare for life in Lismore

THERE'S only endless thanks from brothers Amani and John Mapatano, who arrived in Lismore as refugees in August after several years of waiting to get their applications approved.

Well on their way to settling into their new home in Lismore, Amani recently sat down with Craig and George Chapman from Coraki to talk about how they began the transition long before setting foot in Australia.

Amani was hired as a gardener at Ololo, a lodge in Nairobi, Kenya, owned by the Chapman family.

"I did not work before, I had no experience working with people," Amani said.

"But when I came to Ololo I met a lot of people and I know now how to live in a community."

When asked why he built a lodge in Kenya, Craig Chapman responded jokingly "I just liked the land".

"It was an old stone building on 20 acres of land right on the edge of Nairobi National Park, so it's good for tourism," he said.

The Chapman family, including Mr Chapman's wife Joanna and sons, Jim, 15, and George and Charley, both 20, became regular visitors to Nairobi.

"Amani came to work for us," Mr Chapman said.

"Initially we were a little cautious about hiring him because we were worried the other staff wouldn't accept him. But he became very popular very quickly."

Amani and John came to know the Chapman family well, picking up some Australian slang and learning about rugby from George and Charley.

"They taught me 'g'day mate' and 'rightio mate'," Amani said.

"Before I met the boys I wasn't a fan of rugby, but when I met them I became interested."

That friendship has continued in Lismore.

Amani said he wanted to thank the whole Lismore community for helping them establish their new home.

"People in Australia, the Lismore community, are so welcoming," Amani said.



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