By Rochelle Stewart-Allen

“It doesn’t matter how you see me, I am a part of you,” were the poignant words that Abann Yor greeted the Wellington crowd with at the World Refugee Day Celebration in Wellington, New Zealand, last week.

Abann, General Manager of the Auckland Resettled Community Coalition, explained the difference between the refugee journey that ends when arriving in New Zealand and rebuilding a life here as a new New Zealander.

The evening was a celebration of refugee background communities, the lives they’ve rebuilt here and their contribution to the social fabric of the countries. Three social enterprises, which are actively doing good work to support resettled skilled women, also shared their stories.

Elisha Watson (Nisa), Lexy Seedhouse (ChangeMakers Refugee Forum), Ibrahim Omer (ChangeMakers) and Julia Hamilton (Wellington City Council)
Elisha Watson (Nisa), Lexy Seedhouse (ChangeMakers Refugee Forum), Ibrahim Omer (ChangeMakers) and Julia Hamilton (Wellington City Council). Photo: FAIRSHOTS/Ehsan Hazaveh.

 

 

“It’s time for generosity between old communities and new communities,” encouraged Elisha Watson, Founder of Nisa, a Wellington underwear label that aims to help refugee background women from the bottom up. Elisha was fresh from Nisa’s sell-out success at its first pop-up shop in Wellington to celebrate World Refugee Week.

Ibrahim Omer, Chair of ChangeMakers Refugee Forum, talked about the necessity to recognise the social and economic contribution that resettled communities add to New Zealand and about how they are proud to call themselves Kiwis.

The New Zealanders Now – From Refugee to Kiwi exhibition at the NZ Portrait Gallery
The New Zealanders Now – From Refugee to Kiwi exhibition was held at the NZ Portrait Gallery.
Photo: FAIRSHOTS/Ehsan Hazaveh.

 

 

Around the NZ Portrait Gallery were powerful black and white portraits from the New Zealanders Now: From Refugee to Kiwi exhibition. The images, by photographer Nando Azevedo, provided a glimpse into meaningful lives and offered a challenge to look beyond the label ‘refugee’ and find ways to connect.

The World Refugee Day Celebration was a collaboration between ChangeMakers Refugee Forum, Nisa, Pomegranate Kitchen, Needs More Cushions, Auckland Resettled Community Coalition, Wellington City Council and HOST International.