Refugee Week
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Rnita’s story

The Journey 

Rnita grew up in Syria, where she and her family were involved in the anti-Bashar al-Assad revolution.  As such, they lived under the constant threat of harassment, arrest, or even disappearance. Rnita, who worked as a teacher and community mentor, lived in a permanent state of fear and uncertainty. “Every morning I would leave home,” she says, “not knowing whether I would make it back.”  One day, she narrowly escaped injury from a nearby bomb explosion, a stark reminder of the fragile nature of life amid war. The ongoing conflict led to days without electricity or communication, making the resilience of the Syrian people all the more remarkable. “I look at them as eighteen million heroes”, she says, “having lived like this, day in, day out.”

Arriving in Australia 

Initially, Rnita and her family sought refuge in Lebanon, where they were treated badly and forced to work long hours just to meet basic needs. They registered with the UNHCR and applied for asylum. After an anxious wait, they were offered visas for Australia. “The day we found out, I wept for joy”, says Rnita.  They arrived in Sydney on 18 June 2015, which was, coincidentally, during Refugee Week. The warm reception they received was profoundly moving, and Rnita was eager to give back to the community that embraced her.

Giving Back 

Rnita now works at the Refugee Council of Australia and has also volunteered with a wide array of community and settlement organisations. These roles have enabled her to assist other refugees to transition into their new lives and engage with their new communities. She is also currently studying Business Studies at Swinburne University. Rnita is committed to using her experiences to support newly arrived families, foster their potential and advocate for positive changes for refugees and asylum seekers, driven by gratitude towards the Australian people who welcomed her.

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