NEWS AND EVENTS
Refugees' achievements caught in new book
Publish by: Nelson Mail
A spotlight is falling on the achievements of former refugees living in Nelson with a book featuring their stories due out tomorrow. New Beginnings: Refugees Stories – Nelson will be launched in the Elma Turner Library tomorrow, which is also World Refugee Day.
The book was the vision of former refugee Sue Leya and was supported by the Nelson Multicultural Council, Refugee Services Nelson and Settling In – a Family and Community Services initiative. Trang Lam, Govinda Regmi, Paing Mu and Mu Lar Pan are among the former refugees living in Nelson who feature in its pages.
Nelson Multicultural Council co-ordinator Evey McAuliffe said it was important to acknowledge the contribution refugees made to the community as many were doing well in areas such as school, sports, culture groups, work or business. "
We're hoping that these stories will inspire other people and also let everyone know that these are highly motivated people who want to contribute and be self-sufficient," she said.
Ms Mu, a member of the Karen community from Burma who came to New Zealand from Thailand in 2001 with little formal education and no knowledge of English, said it was a privilege to be featured in the book. "I'm glad that I can share my story with other people. When I came here I couldn't even speak or understand one word, so I have been learning hard. If I can do it, other people can," she said.
Ms Lam, a member of the Khmer Krom community from Vietnam who came to New Zealand from Thailand in 1994, said: "You forget where you came from and what you have been through. It's good to be reminded of how far you have come."
Ms Pan, said with Ms Mu translating, that she was happy to be featured in the book as part of the Sukita Project of Kayan weavers. The project, founded by Kay Sneddon in 2010, aims to preserve the art and crafts of refugee and migrant cultures and promote them within their communities.
Ms Pan has been in Nelson for about three years and also features in another book being launched at the library next Wednesday called Mu Lar's Weaving by author and photographer Maclean Barker, designed as an early reader to be used in schools and adult language classes.
New Beginnings: Refugees Stories researcher and editor Alison Gibbs said World Refugee Day was an appropriate time to launch the book as it honoured the courage, strength and determination of women, men and children who were forced to flee their homeland under threat of persecution, conflict and violence.
Ms Gibbs said 700 people from a refugee background called Nelson home and some of their success stories were "truly inspirational", in light of the trauma they left behind.
New Beginnings: Refugees Stories and Mu Lar's Weaving will be launched at the Elma Turner Library tomorrow, at 6pm.
New Beginnings: Refugees Stories will be available online at nelsonmulticultural.co.nz