I am a migrant: Mireille

“I was born in Australia of an Indian mother who came to Australia 45 years ago, when she met and married my father. A few decades later, I met my soon to be husband from Switzerland and so I too moved for love to Lucerne, in Switzerland. We had planned to live between countries, spending 2 or 3 years in each, but found this rather draining and difficult.

After the first few months of excitement died down, I settled into a homesickness that lasted more than a year. I actually had a good job and so did my husband, we were well off, had a nice apartment, could travel, but I was not happy. I kept thinking about the things I missed in Perth, my hometown – the cafes, the weather, the beaches, my family and friends, the ease of communicating in my native language and even the loud drunks.

I guess the biggest thing for me was feeling isolated, which is ironic because Perth is actually the most isolated city in the world and Luzern is in the middle of Europe! But I guess you always miss what you don’t have, and the day came when I finally had to make the choice as to what I would miss most. Could I really leave Perth forever, have kids and settle in Switzerland? After two years, I decided to return.

I am lucky that I had the choice. The majority of women in this world don’t have the same options that I had – to return home divorced and still be a respected member of society and accepted by my family and friends, and to be able to work and to be paid well doing fulfilling work that I love and provide for myself.

The world needs women like us who have options and who can help others who don’t. Together we will rise. We have to release all that is holding us back which, all that is keeping us from stepping out and doing good in the world. I am now coaching women to be “powerfully feminine” and I show them how capable (and awesome) women are, everywhere.

I believe that wherever you are living, you should commit fully to living in it by creating a life you love there. If you miss something from home – some feeling, a sense of community, friendship – you have to go out and actively seek it and create it. Usually it doesn’t come knocking at your front door!”




Migrant Earnings

Skilled migrants’ median employee income was $52,000, followed by those with an ‘other’ visa ($42,000) and those from the family stream ($36,000).

SBS reported last week that refugees are most likely to start business in the construction sector.

More than 90 per cent of migrant income is as an employee, however, rather than as a business owner.

Women have no data of income before the first year. To figure out why we should look at the cultural context and how this might effect there people. Often refugees and migrants will com from cultures where each gender has a rigid role in society. The woman produces and looks after children, while the men work.

This can be a very difficult mind set for people to break. Think about moving to a culture where that is true and that is your way of life now, you might not agree with it and it would be difficult to change wouldn’t it?

These things take time and especially in Sydney, supporting a family is increasingly difficult both husband and wife often need to work to provide basic support for their families.


Australia must be careful.

Katia Alsommoh and her husband fled their home in Syria last year and now live in Western Sydney.

Her whole family is still living in Syria in refugee camps, her father is still working in an oil refinery in homs. She is pleased to see the humanitarian effort in Australia is doing so well!

But she’s warned Australia must be careful about who it lets into the country under its humanitarian program.

“Australia is dreamland, like I said, it’s a very beautiful country. Everyone is helpful, even from people I don’t know: ‘If you want any help, call us, that’s our number.”

Before the war, [Syria was] very beautiful. I’m a doctor, my husband is a dentist. We were working, go out, have fun. We have family, friends, everything.

But everything is changing – everything.

Katia Alsommoh and her husband fled Syria a year ago with their passports, university degrees and a few belongings.

Every day there’s bombed cars. Last week in Homs, my city, there was a bombed car in front of my parents’ home.

“Yesterday I heard we want to receive 10,000 refugees. But please Australia, be careful who are you helping, because I saw many photos of men on the Facebook, on the internet, they were with ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, then they were refugees in Germany and Sweden.”

No, we don’t want those people to come to Australia. Please be careful.

So what can we as Sydneysiders take away from this.

I think the most important lesson here is considering the fact that we can not lump all refugees and migrants from all countries into one sweeping generalization of what it means to be a refugee or a migrant.

It may have surprised some of you to find she is a doctor. Many people think of refugees as the countries poor or unwanted, but refugees are just people like you and I looking for a better life, looking to keep our families safe, looking to stay alive.

Has her story made you think differently about the global migrant crisis?
Has her warning made you more sceptical about bringing in new refugees?

I am a migrant: Lilliam

“Due to the war in Nicaragua, my husband’s parents decided to send him to Costa Rica for his own safety and he came to the same church I had been attending with my family. Since we met, Oscar and I shared friendship, faith, and passion for music. He played the guitar and I sang in church at all types of meetings we attended. We spent much time together and fell in love, but my parents did not allow me to have a boyfriend until I turned 18 years old; we were both 14 years old. So we waited.

In 1982 when I turned 18 years old, Oscar gave me a serenade at my birthday and we started dating. I was studying my psychology at the University of Costa Rica and he was finishing night school while working in the daytime painting houses. We were two young people with limited socio-economic conditions.

Oscar’s father began to consider the possibility of migrating with his whole family for their safety. This began to weaken our relationship because the possibility of a separation was always a threat.  Oscar and his family migrated to Australia 1985 with a humanitarian visa. We were unable to continue our relationship and lost contact, despite the love we felt.

In 2000, Oscar contacted me again after many years and we began talking regularly with hope of seeing each other again. This time we were in contact every day through Skype and telephone and after a few years we started to make wedding arrangements. We got married on December 25, 2013 in Costa Rica in a very intimate ceremony with family and friends. We applied for a spouse visa which was approved, and I came to live to Australia with Oscar in January 2015. We met in 1979 and 36 years later our dream of being together has finally been made possible.”

I’ve spent so much time fighting war, why should I fight the rubbish that comes out of people’s mouths that has no meaning to me?

in an interview with the ABC Deng Aduts story was told.

As a child in South Sudan he was taken from his family and forced to fight as a soldier. At 12 years old he escaped to Kenya, he was then sent to Australia as a refugee.

Hehad to teach himself to read and eventually put himself through university.

Today he owns a law firm in Western Sydney.

He came to prominence when his story was told in a viral ad promoting Western Sydney University. Now he is about to release a book about his life, Songs of a War Boy.

‘I have nightmares every night’

Today Deng is still haunted by the horrific scenes he witnessed as a child soldier.

“It started from the journey when we went from South Sudan to Ethiopia. It was horror,” he said.

“Seeing people dying, kids dying, people dying from thirst, people getting shot on the way.

“I have nightmares every night. There’s no night that I don’t wake up, frightened about what I’ve seen. And there’s no night where I would just wake up happily, just like a normal person.”

Culture shock in Australia

Once he was resettled in Australia the culture shock was intense. It took years for him to get used to living here.

“Every single thing was new,” he said.

“You can’t compare going to get water from the Nile and drink it, and going to the fridge or going to the tap and drink it.”


‘Why should I fight the rubbish that comes out of people’s mouths’

Deng has been in Australia for more than 20 years and said racism was a regular part of his life. But he has no interest in fighting back.

“I don’t have time to waste with them,” he said in an interview with the ABC

“I’ve spent so much time fighting war, why should I fight the rubbish that comes out of people’s mouths that has no meaning to me? I don’t want to be involved with another conflict. My conflict is over.”

“I try to work on me, on myself, and try to work on helping other people.”

Deng is one of many refugees living here in Sydney with us his tragic yet inspiring story is one among a multitude of other uncovered stories around Sydney.
People like Deng Adut helped shape sydney into what it is today. So we can confidently say he is Sydney. #iamsydney

I am a migrant: Martina

“My name is Martina. I came to Australia fifteen years ago from Croatia. I’m married to a great Bosnian man, which was the main reason I came here. We tried to live in Bosnia but it didn’t work for me and Croatia wasn’t much easier for my husband. We wanted to go somewhere where it didn’t matter what nationality you are. We just wanted to have normal life.

We had heard about IOM helping people find a better life. We weren’t too optimistic but we applied for the visa. After almost two years nothing had happened and we thought that we wouldn’t go anywhere, but just then things started to happen. We had a first interview, and not very long after we had medical checks and just like that we had a call that said “you are leaving Croatia on the 14th of February 2001.”  That was a huge shock because we had only two weeks to prepare before travel. It was hard but we knew we had to try. Our baby was only three years old and we just wanted something better for her.

The 16th of February we landed in Canberra, we were tired, scared, didn’t know what to expect, and knew zero English. Luckily we had a group of volunteers, who we can’t thank enough for all their help and support,  and a translator who helped us through the first days, even months. Australia was a country that I had only heard about in my geography classes, and suddenly it became my home. Step by step, I started to learn about Australia and every day I liked it more and more. I was amazed by all the tall, intimidating buildings that I saw on my first visit to Sydney.

Luckily people here are friendly and helpful.  My husband and I went to school to learn English while our daughter went to childcare. I was and still am amazed by the opportunities that Australia has to offer if one only seeks them out.

Recently, we became Australian citizens.  We’ve been in Australia for fifteen years now and we’ve never thought about leaving. Moving here has proved to be the best decision.  Australia is our home. I miss my family and friends and would love to go visit them but now I say “I go home to Australia.”

Now we live in Perth and we love it. My husband and I are working and our “baby of three years” has become a young lady of almost nineteen, she studies and works and loves Australia just as much as her parents.”


I am a migrant: Klaus

“Because I’d been so dislocated, I wanted to know what those old roots were.”

Originally from Bremen in northern Germany, Klaus departed for Australia with his family in November 1954.

“It was my parents’ decision – mainly my father. Germany was sandwiched between Russia and America so politically, it wasn’t very good. And my father was a bit of an adventurer.

It’s so hard to tell you what it was like. Just getting on a ship and standing on the deck and looking over to Pireas and seeing three hundred Greeks arrive all dressed in black. With all their belongings in baskets.”

After arriving in Melbourne in January 1955 and spending a few days at a migrant camp, Klaus’s family moved to Orange, New South Wales.

Reflecting on life as a migrant, Klaus says there were “two different cultures operating.” There was the Australian culture at school and with his mates and then the “old German ways at home. My siblings and I were going like crazy to adapt to Australia and become Australian.

Germany just disappeared in a way. I was so busy adjusting, learning the language and all of the other nuances of being in this society, that there was very little reinforcement of what had happened in Germany.”

Later, however, Klaus began to question his identity and sought to “make sense of it all” during a visit to Germany.

“I started recording a lot of family history and wrote down all that stuff, kept a diary, went through peoples’ documents and compiled a family tree. Because I’d been so dislocated, I wanted to know what those old roots were.

I had a great sadness. There was no continuity of all the stories, all the folklore, all the lore. It was just cut off.”

Klaus, now a grandfather, is part of a big family again. “We’ve created our own milieu… It’s all around me. We’ve got sixty one years of it.”

But, for a migrant, Klaus says reflecting is a lifelong process. When he was awarded the Order of Australia for service to conservation and the environment in 2012 he had, what he calls, “an aha moment.” The honour was like a pat on the back or a handshake from his adopted homeland: “Yes, you’ve been accepted. You are now Australian.”

Beyond the Fabric

One of the groups that have been doing great work around raising awareness about the plight of refugees around the world is beyond the fabric here is a little bit about them:

The Refugee Women Support Group Indonesia is a community-based voluntary group of refugee and asylum seeker women. Their activities include handicraft, sewing classes, swimming lessons, English and Bahasa classes, music classes and health care classes.

They support each other through friendship and sharing, with the aim to empower women. Now it’s our turn to support them.

Welcome to Beyond the Fabric.

Please support them by going to their page, giving them a like and please browse through all of the activities that they have on offer at https://www.facebook.com/beyondthefab/