Former refugee repays debt of gratitude to Rotary club

Kayande Rashidi, who lived in a refugee camp for five years, feels indebted to the Rotary club for the help it gave him.  Picture: Andrew Ritchie         www.communitypix.com.au   d442399
Kayande Rashidi, who lived in a refugee camp for five years, feels indebted to the Rotary club for the help it gave him. Picture: Andrew Ritchie        www.communitypix.com.au d442399

When war broke out in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mr Rashidi and his family were forced to flee their home country.

�We couldn�t go back home, if people went back they might get killed,� Mr Rashidi said.

Mr Rashidi and his family lived in Kigoma camp in Tanzania for almost five years before the Australian Government granted them refugee visas.

�My first impression of Australia was good because I can live safely with no problems, I thought: �this is freedom�,� he said.

A Balga resident since arriving in 2003, he said he wanted to support the local community through his Rotary involvement.

�I help in the African community in Balga but I can�t just limit it to my own community, I need to help the whole community,� he said.

In the refugee camp, Mr Rashidi witnessed the Rotary Club�s humanitarian work.

�They were very helpful, seeing the way they helped us, when I came here with my family I wanted to join,� he said.

Mr Rashidi said moving to Australia was daunting to begin with.

�When I started learning English I wondered if I�d ever be able to speak this language and if I�d be able to study.�

He is now studying mining engineering at Curtin University.

Balcatta Rotary Club president Jackie Bullock said the club members were excited about inducting younger members from different backgrounds.

�There was a perception that it was only open to successful older people but that�s all changed now; we�re absolutely excited to have younger members,� Ms Bullock said.

�Once you�re a member it doesn�t matter where you go, you�re part of 1.2 million Rotarians across the world, you�re part of a family.�