Inspiration of refugee lives revealed in new book

Rohingya community members from left, Abdul Hamid, Afifullah, Majid Hamza, Abdul Majid and Hamid’s daughter. Recently Majid, who now works on the community sector, recently bought his first house in Melbourne’s south east.

The heart-wrenching and inspirational stories of refugees who have found safety and new a life in Australia are told in visceral and compelling detail in a new book published this week.

‘Refugee Stories: In their own words’ has collected the first-hand accounts of dozens of refugees who have fled conflict or persecution and begun new lives in Australia.

Several stories in the book feature people living in the Dandenong area.

The book recounts the hair-raising and deeply human journeys of people who have had to flee their homes and it reveals their hopes and dreams for their future.

It includes the story of a Syrian Christian man ‘George’ who survived a year as a captive of the brutal militant Islamist group ISIS and who was constantly threatened with death while being ignorant of the fate of his wife and daughter.

It tells the story of Cambodian refugee Hap Dan who, as a small boy sitting on his father’s shoulders, made a fateful journey to freedom and safety through Pol Pot’s infamous ‘killing fields’.

And there is also the tale of South Vietnamese naval officer Hao Quach, who steered a rickety boat through stormy seas filled with pirates on an epic journey to safety and salvation.

‘Refugee Stories’ author Laurie Nowell said the book was aimed at building awareness about the reasons refugees come to Australia and the contributions they make.

“Many of the refugees who settle in Australia have experienced trauma, torture or the loss of loved ones. They bring with them memories, traditions, culture and history,” Mr Nowell said.

“They also bring with them hopes, dreams and ambitions for their children. They are, by definition, resilient and ingenious people who have overcome challenges and dangers just to get here.

“Refugees have always, and still, have a lot to offer this country.”

Refugee settlement agency AMES Australia CEO Cath Scarth said the book was a reminder of the contributions refugees make to Australia.

“Refugees bring with them resilience, optimism and a deep work ethic. Australia is fortunate to have people with these qualities,” Ms Scarth said.

‘Refugee Stories’ is about the experiences and the hopes and aspirations of refugees who have made Australia home.

Funds raised by the sale of the book will go to support refugees and asylum seekers in need.

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