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Helping refugees find hope

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Since relocating to the Kilburn Parish Hall in September, the Vinnies Migrant and Refugee Centre has assisted more than 150 families and individuals on bridging visas.

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Refugees like Rahmatullah have still been able to come to the centre for food, household items and assistance with bills.

Rahmatullah fled war-ravaged Afghanistan nine years ago, arriving by boat from Indonesia and spending two years on Christmas Island and a year in Curtin Detention Centre.  Now living with four other Afghanis, he is trying to find work but is hindered by the lack of a permanent visa and limited English.

Asked what he would be doing for Christmas, he said “nothing”.

He spoke painfully of his family members in Afghanistan who had been killed or injured.

Centre coordinator Mary Ireland said Rahmatullah’s story was typical of the hundreds of “legacy cases” in South Australia. She said boredom, depression and anxiety about their future was commonplace.

Pointing to a nativity scene made by a Syrian refugee four years ago, Mary said “I look at it and see a family who had to flee their home and find somewhere safe”.

“I want people to see this as a place of hope,” she added.

The centre is distributing Christmas hampers to families and is in need of entertainment vouchers for children. Anyone able to help should contact Mary on 0448 970 986.

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