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Sisters experience Wodonga Christmas lights during first Australian Christmas


Sisters experience Wodonga Christmas lights during first Australian Christmas

Janet Howie from the Border Mail newspaper writes on 22 December 2017;

Uncertain at first, but growing in confidence and delight, the two girls played with bubble snow, danced along with Santa and gladly accepted candy canes.

For Angel, 10, and Naomi, 7, an evening outing in Wodonga brought their first experience of Christmas lights in their first Australian festive season.

The sisters, along with their family, arrived on the Border in July after years of struggle in Nairobi, Kenya.

Parents Grace and M’bali, who had to flee violence in the Congo about a dozen years ago, have been assisted by a settlement team including Helen Putland, of Murray Valley Sanctuary Refugee Group. The group supports Rural Australians for Refugees, which will hold its April national conference in Albury-Wodonga. 

Ms Putland usually helps Angel and Naomi’s family with appointments and liaising with agencies, but Thursday night’s drive was far less mundane.

“I just thought it would be a lovely thing for them to do because it’s their first Christmas in Australia,” she said. 

“I used to take my granddaughter, so this is nice to take some other children.”

From Morrison to Pinkerton to Marshall streets, the girls marvelled at snowfalls, with a sibling snow fight breaking out before too long.

They chased colour on a driveway dance floor and pushed buttons to make Santa sing and dance. 

Not that they confused this Santa figure with the one due on Sunday night.

“If he was the real Santa, he would be here with a sleigh,” Angel said.