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Strength in community

25 June 2024, Impact of Our Work

Small Australian town helps refugee family build a new life

“We just need a place to have a safe life, because we went through a very difficult life in the past,” says Mazin.

When Mazin’s family fled Syria, they could not imagine that they would find refuge in the small NSW town of Goulburn. With the help of Community Refugee Sponsorship Australia the family were able to set up a new life and begin healing from the horrors they endured at the hands of ISIS.

This year, Refugee Week runs between 16 June and 22 June with the theme ‘Finding Freedom’ with a focus on family. The initiative sheds light on experiences like that of Mazin and his family’s journey from the conflict in Syria to a new life in Australia.

Escape to a new life     

Mazin was a successful businessman in Syria before he was targeted by ISIS. He was kidnapped twice, survived torture and being held captive for 10 months. Escaping their war-torn homeland, his family arrived in Australia with few possessions and not speaking a word of English. 

We just need a place to have a safe life, because we went through a very difficult life in the past.


Volunteers supporting refugees     

The program that assisted Mazin and his family known as Community Refugee Integration and Settlement Pilot (CRISP) helps match refugee households to local volunteer groups. Community refugee sponsorship gives people the opportunity to sponsor and assist refugee families in their communities. 

Save the Children leads a group of charities in advocating for the establishment of community refugee sponsorship in Australia. The CRISP is based on a Canadian scheme that has been running since the 1970s and has been adopted by multiple countries around the world. The aim in Australia is to support 1,500 refugees over four years with help from local communities.

Elyas and George with a volunteer from their community.

Embraced by their community     

For Mazin and his family, this meant that upon arrival in their new country they were met at the airport by their sponsors who also assisted in providing housing, employment and in enrolling the children in local schools. The community also helped with school fees, school uniforms and even bicycles for Mazin’s two sons. Local churches provided language classes, while rotary clubs gave driving lessons and a local Arabic speaking couple even provided the family with a car.

Watch here to see how the people of Goulburn welcomed Mazin’s family:

Finding hope in their new home

Mazin and his family never thought they would experience joy again but through the support of CRISP and compassionate people like you they now have the chance for a new life in a safe and supportive environment. 
Refugee Week plays a vital part in sharing stories like that of Mazin, who despite the enormous challenges faced are able to find hope and freedom for their families in new homes like Australia.

If you are looking for new ways to help refugees this Refugee Week, check out our blog 10 ways you can help refugees for ideas.

Photos: Community Refugee Sponsorship Australia.

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