Refugees from Iraq and Afghanistan were welcomed in a show of fraternity, care and recognition of the often-perilous journeys they undertook to arrive at a place of safety, at a recent BBQ held at Catholic Care’s Mamre House in St Clair.
Catholic Care Western Sydney and Blue Mountains, Settlement Services International (SSI) and Holy Spirit Parish, St Clair-Erskine Park collaborated to host the event for 27 refugees who live in Western Sydney.
The event, held on 13 November, was organised by Catholic Care, who run welcome picnics throughout the year in collaboration with SSI and any local parishes who wish to welcome newly arrived refugees. SSI case worker Tamana said she hoped the event promoted “social connection with the help of local ambassadors”.
Catholic Care was excited to have the support of local parishioners from Holy Spirit to help barbecue, provide local treats and friendly hospitality on the day, and many great connections were made.
Aboriginal elders, Uncle Steve from the local land council and Aunty Rhonda from Aboriginal Catholic Services in Emerton welcomed the newcomers, wishing them a “good life here and that you enjoy Australia” before the typically “Aussie” BBQ complete with ANZAC biscuits. Fun activities included games that doubled as English lessons and a tour around the historic buildings and farm of Mamre House.
“You can imagine, they have been through a lot in their migration journey,” explained Tamara.
Catholic Care Manager of Community Engagement Celia Vagg said, “The welcome picnics are a great opportunity to show welcome and kindness to newly arrived refugees who have been forced to flee their homes. They demonstrate a spirit of acceptance, and you see people learning from each other, deeper understanding of the refugee journey and lovely cross-cultural connections.”
Parishioners in the Diocese are invited to get involved in being part of a refugee welcome picnic in their area and are encouraged to reach out to Catholic Care’s Community Outreach Worker Ritta Hakkoum on (02) 8843 2500 or firstname.lastname@example.org