Refugee Alternatives Conference - Refugee Women in Australia

Refugee Alternatives Conference - Refugee Women in Australia

A Continuum of Experience: Refugee Women in Australia.

This session was moderated by Mariam Issar, herself an inspiring speaker.

She introduced three young women with refugee backgrounds who spoke of the ways they had established themselves as people who could make a difference, so not just their own lives would be fulfilled, but so that other refugees would benefit.

Dung Tran  arrived from Vietnam by boat after the war alone, aged five and in charge of her three year old brother. They’d been separated from their parents at departure and it was some time before the boat carrying their parents miraculously arrived at the same place her boat had.

After completing school she gained a qualification in Community Services and worked for the Red Cross. “Trauma gets in the way of learning,” she said. “You’ve got to be the change.” She felt that the best way to assist new arrivals was from “the inside”; to that end she joined the Department of Community Services where she set up internal training using her storytelling technique, sharing her journey in order to empower refugee women and to inspire others to be non-racist. Approximately 5000 people have completed her course.

Yarrie Bangoura  is a refugee ambassador from the African continent who started her own business, Aunty’s Ginger Tonic   in Sierra Leone where ginger is celebrated nationwide. After the war, the women of Guinea would gather and make this drink together to take to the markets to make a living.  Yarrie is a writer, performer and motivational speaker.  Her presentation highlighted the need for young women to follow their dreams to become what they want to be.

Esther Nima Sung    is of Zotung Chin ethnicity, from Myanmar. She arrived in Australia in 2013 after spending five years as a refugee in Malaysia where for two years she worked as an interpreter for the International Rescue committee.  Currently she is the (volunteer) President of the Chin Youth Organisation (CYO) and is completing a Bachelor of Community Development at Victoria University.  Esther spoke of growing up in Myanmar; her father asked her to stop playing music in their church because a woman’s place was to look after everyone at home. She refused.  She felt that was her first step toward independence as a young woman. She speaks three languages plus English and five Chin dialects. (There are fifty-three Chin dialects altogether.)