WelCom News
A newspaper for the Wellington and Palmerston North Catholic Dioceses

Refugee Trust unites 36 with their families


30 May 2012

The Refugee Family Reunification Trust has just welcomed another family from Somalia who have settled into a house, which the Sisters of Compassion have organised for them in Island Bay. They have spent the past 10 years in transit in Ethiopia, fleeing the ongoing civil war in their own country.

The social justice group based at St Thomas More parish, Wilton, has been raising money for their air fares, an action that trust coordinator Amanda Calder equates to strong, compassionate, justice-focused Wellington women helping strong refugee women. ‘They have been doing all the fundraising and paper work and leaving me as little to do as possible.’

The trust is busy at the moment with another Somali woman arriving with her mother and sister. They are solo mothers who have never learnt English and they are attending classes daily and working hard to learn the language, Amanda says.

One woman has six children, the eldest of whom has severe autism and they are helping each other, all grateful for their life in a free and democratic country and determined to work to succeed.The children have settled well at school and it will be good for them to have some family support. The trust which has been going for more than 10 years had a bumper year in 2011 with 47 applications for funding amounting to a turnover of $103,000.

Fourteen applications were for air fares and 36 refugees including 23 children were able to join their families in New Zealand.

In the decade since its inception, the trust has paid for 350 air fares, many of them children and young people.

The Wellington West Pastoral Area social justice group is organising a film fundraiser at 8pm on Sunday June 17 at the Penthouse in Brooklyn. French film Le Havre from director Aki Kaurismäki, won the International Critics’ Prize at Cannes, 2011. It is a delightful and thought-provoking story about a shoe-shiner working on the streets who witnesses an illegal immigrant boy escaping from the police and sets out to help him elude the locals. Great characters!

For more information, contact Elizabeth Harper, (04) 475-7414; Kathryn Flynn, (04) 976-0817; or Bernadine Reid, (04) 475-7927.

For more information on the Trust or to make a donation, visit www.refugeefamilyreunificationtrust.org.nz or send cheques to PO Box 27342, Marion Square, Wellington 6141.