Oxfam Australia has released an absorbing new film, Journeys to Australia, that profiles five refugees and their journeys to Australia.
Released to coincide with Refugee Realities, a simulated refugee camp that is open at Gasworks Park in Melbourne until 13 March, Journeys to Australia is being screened daily at the camp.
‘This film captures the stories of five otherwise ordinary people, whose lives have been made extraordinary by their flight from conflict,’ said Steph Cousins, Project Coordinator of Refugee Realities. ‘They all have strong Australian accents and their eyes light up when they talk about their first moment in Australia. Each experience is completely unique,’ said Steph.
David Vincent tells of fleeing Sudan with his father, at three years of age, for the relative safety of the Ethiopian border where a new refugee camp was being established. David and his father walked for six weeks to reach the Ethiopian border and the new camp site.
‘When we arrived there was no camp there at all. It was just a big, empty space, some trees, and we were told, this is where you will start to build your camp,’ said David. ‘Well, we start (sic) improvising for shelters, you know, cutting down some trees, and having plastic sheets as our roof,’ he added.
Lakapawmoo Pe was five years old when the military attacked and burned down her village in Burma, forcing her family to leave. They hid for several years in the Burmese jungle before moving to the Mae La refugee camp, on the Thai-Burma border, where she lived for 18 years.
‘We had freedom, a little bit, but we can’t go out of the camp,’ said Lakapawmoo when speaking of her time in Mae La.
Abdul Yusef fled Somalia with his family to the United Arab Emirates when he was three years of age. He and his family returned to Africa to be reunited with his mother’s family in Nairobi, Kenya before being granted a refugee visa for Australia.
‘When I think of home, I think of two places, I know for some people, home is just one. For me it is two, it is definitely Kenya and definitely Australia. Largely because Australia has changed my life,’ says Abdul in the film.
Journeys to Australia is screened free of charge as a part of Refugee Realities, on the hour, between 11am and 5pm daily, between 22 February to 13 March at Melbourne’s Gasworks Theatre, 21 Graham Street, Albert Park.
To arrange an interview with one of the refugees featured in the film contact
Melany Markham on 0407 515 559