More than 30 people from Myanmar and the Ukraine who have fled their war-torn homes were welcomed to Cairns with a traditional Aussie morning tea at Centacare FNQ Multicultural Services.
The official Welcome to Country was done by Minjil Cultural Services who presented a gift to the new arrivals after their welcome ceremony. The Welcome Blessing was conducted by the Most Reverend Bishop James Foley who recounted stories about his travel in Russia and the Ukraine during the 1980’s.
The Honorable Warren Entsch MP and Michael Healy MP also attended and spoke of the importance of supporting the people from these war-torn countries who had sought refuge in Australia.
The group included families with young children, the elderly and some teenagers who are studying while in Australia.
School teacher and psychologist Ganna Chumachenko from Kyiv in Ukraine who arrived in Cairns three weeks ago is one of the people who has come to Cairns with her husband and daughter.
“I want to tell a story about a boy who is in the same class as my daughter in Kyiv” she said. “He was hiding in the basement with his aunties in Bucha and they stayed there for 11 days and then when the green corridor was given so that they could evacuate they packed everything in 10 minutes and then they left after that. He was in the car and he was looking out and he could see the dead bodies in the street and destroyed military equipment everywhere and he was could see everything. I work with this boy and I talk with him as well and he cannot sleep and he feels unwell. When they left Bucha, the car behind them had one of my friends in it and they didn’t make it to Kyiv as they were taken as hostages and this boy and his family find it really difficult. I think that children should not be involved in wars. It’s adults that are the ones that start the wars so adults should deal with adults children should not suffer and they shouldn’t really see scenes like that.” Ganna said.
“It is my first time in Australia and I have been amazed at how open and welcoming the people have been and how willing they have been to help and I would really like to say a big thankyou to Australia for making my family welcome here and not only my family but lots of other families as well” she said.
Centacare FNQ has a long history for supporting migrant communities and refugees settling in the region. “This is a chance for us to come together and warmly welcome our newest arrivals to the region from Ukraine and Myanmar. This is a very special time for both communities being Ukrainian Easter and Thingyan (Myanmar New Year). Together, we can show them that they have all the support and love in their settlement journey from our entire FNQ community” Centacare FNQ’s Executive Director Anita Veivers said.
The morning tea was a great opportunity to share time with the families and understand how we can continue to support them as a community. We are also grateful for the ongoing support from our partners in the settlement process which include TAFE, Cairns Safer Streets, Sun Pacific College, Diocese of Cains, Refugee Health and the Queensland Program of Assistance to Survivors of Torture and Trauma.
Together as a community we can help those fleeing their war-torn homelands to feel safe and supported.