Glen Forrest: refugees share experiences with Helena College students


Year 8 students Kiah Watson (left) and Elizabeth Zuber-Watts (right) with Shahla Haidary and Parvaneh Haidary. Picture: Chris Jeffrey/Helena College.

Helena College early learning centre students Chloe Stamenich (middle) and Neveah Casey (right corner) with Narges and Faeze Ghorbanian. Picture: Chris Jeffrey/Helena College
Year 8 students Kiah Watson (left) and Elizabeth Zuber-Watts (right) with Shahla Haidary and Parvaneh Haidary. Picture: Chris Jeffrey/Helena College. Helena College early learning centre students Chloe Stamenich (middle) and Neveah Casey (right corner) with Narges and Faeze Ghorbanian. Picture: Chris Jeffrey/Helena College

REFUGEES shared with schoolchildren their experiences of having to leave their homeland for religious or political reasons and resettle in a new country.

A group of women from Iran, Afghanistan and Somalia recently wore their national dress to visit the junior and senior school campuses of Helena College in Glen Forrest.

Kindy and pre-primary children listened to stories of culture and heritage, and there was time to learn an Iranian dance from their visitors.

Some of the refugees only recently arrived while others have lived in Australia for some time.

The following day, the women spoke with older groups of students and initiated conversations with the students to make the learning experience more memorable.

Year 8 student Jess Kaufmann said the women explained how it felt to leave the country of their birth and leave family and friends behind.

“I imagine it would have been horrible, as the women had to protect their family and children,” she said.

Elizabeth Zuber-Watts, also in Year 8, said the women were brave to share the horrific events of their escape to freedom.

“One refugee explained how she was hiding with her two children in the desert without food or water,” she said.

“No one can imagine the pain they were forced to go through.”The visit was organised by Helena College’s Sally Herzfeld who is a volunteer with Women Together, a group from the Edmund Rice Centre in Mirrabooka.

The group is a social hub for newly-arrived women with refugee and migrant backgrounds to meet other women.

Ms Herzfeld said though some of the women have lived in Australia for up to 20 years, it was painful for them to talk about leaving their homelands.

“The visit to talk to the students was also about sharing uplifting stories about new life, peace and freedom in their new country,” she said.

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