“My experience could be yours, this might happen to anyone. Anyone may find themselves in the same situation.” say’s Hira*, who arrived in Dandenong a few months ago in search of safety (pictured above with her teenage daughter, Ela*).
Like many recently arrived people seeking asylum, Hira speaks very little English. The following quotes have been translated from Turkish.
“We arrive here with nothing. So we just try to start all over again. Most of us do not even know the culture or the language. There is no opportunity, no network, no guidance. Even the easiest things, such as asking the location of supermarkets, getting a mobile phone or filling out official paper requires guidance, someone to lead us,” says Hira.
Hira’s experience upon arriving in her new home of Dandenong is similar to many people seeking asylum. Vulnerable, isolated and lacking an effective support network, Hira found out about the ASRC via a Google search and she started attending the English classes being run from our small rented office in Dandenong (which we had to close earlier this year due to water damage caused by a flood).
It was a difficult decision to close the office but in reality we also desperately needed to expand our local services to better meet the needs of the community. Because people like Hira were coming to us for more than English classes – some people were coming to us hungry, asking to sleep in our carpark and needing a lawyer.
There is currently very limited help available locally for the thousands of vulnerable people like Hira, who are living in the South-East region.
That’s why it’s so important for the ASRC to build a new Hub in the heart of Dandenong – so we can better support and empower people seeking asylum and provide the support systems people need to thrive.
Our new Hub is a purpose-designed space that will provide access to all the services people seeking asylum have told us they need most when rebuilding their lives, all in a single location. It will not only provide essential support services but our dream is to create an important space for learning, empowerment, volunteering, and advocacy.
For Hira and Ela, it will be a meeting point for them to connect with others and spend time in a space that feels welcoming and supportive. “The new building in Dandenong is very important for our struggle.” says Hira. “The building will help us make our dreams come true. It is a symbol of education, life and hope for us. It is a place and a roof that we need. We would like it to be completed soon. Because we feel like family, like home at ASRC.”
The goal is for us to create a community hub where people feel safe, a place for people seeking asylum to support one another, and provide the foundations they need to realise their dreams.
The building work is underway, but there is still so much to be done. And the truth is we can’t finish it without you.
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