Central Leader : March 9th 2011
7 CENTRAL LEADER, MARCH 9, 2011 NEWS Don’t miss out on the conversation YOUR LOCAL HEARING EXPERTS www.hearingdirect.co.nz Green Bay 64a Godley Road (next to New World) Phone: 827 4457 Better hearing is closer than you think Hearing Direct is independently owned, with our clinic in Green Bay providing professional, unbiased advice on the best hearing solutions for your lifestyle and budget. The team at Hearing Direct understands the impact hearing loss can have on your health and happiness. When you’re deep in conversation and there’s a lot going on around you, that’s when you really appreciate the rich sound and clarity that ReSound Alera delivers. * Hearing aids not actual size Come and hear more clearly on the 18th March You’re invited to our special open day in Green Bay. Experience the latest in hearing aid technology for yourself. Places are limited so book your appointment now. Phone: 827 4457 Custom Remote Microphone 10/30/50* ReSound Alera Fusion BTE* ReSound Alera 60* Refugees settle into new life – at last By HANNAH SPYKSMA New start: The Shofi family has just finished its six-month programme with refugee services, partnering new refugees with community volunteers. From left: Yusuf Shofi, Bibi Janat Shofi, MD Yunus Shofi, Papia Banerjee, Cherie Broom and Miriam Shofi. Photo: JASON OXENHAM ‘ When we arrived in Mt Roskill, we cried when we saw our beautiful house. It gives us great relief to be here. ’ Yunus Shofi Bibi Janat Shofi speaks five languages, makes fantastic chicken curry, grows the best tomatoes around – and has scars the size of school rulers either side of her left knee. While the veggie garden and beautiful food in her Mt Roskill home bring comforts of a secure life, the scars that give her pain at night are a stark reminder of struggles her family has faced to be in New Zealand. Bibi, known as Janat, hus- band MD Yunus, who goes by Yunus, and their two chil- dren, are of Rohingyan eth- nicity and are Burmese refugees. ‘‘New Zealand is my second life,’’ says Yunus, who recounts their harrowing 10- year journey to safety. During 2000, while the world was celebrating a new millennium, the Shofis were fighting for their lives. In the Arakan state of north west Burma, political tension was worsening. The young family held a meeting at their home to discuss the situation. Before they knew what was happening, a rival political party opened fire on their house. Their home burned to the ground, Janat and Miriam were left with horrific scars and the family fled across the Burmese-Thai border. They ended up in Kuala Lumper and have been there for the past 10 years, trying to make a living and get by. ‘‘Before we came to New Zealand, we had many troubles and difficulties. We cried and prayed for the future,’’ Yunus says. Following several years of attempts to be acknowledged as refugees by the Malaysian government, he and Janat were arrested and thrown into a detention camp. At the time, they had just been given official paperwork allowing the family to move to New Zealand. These documents were ripped up in front of them and thrown into the rubbish. If it wasn’t for Yunus’ quick thinking – telling a friend their refugee number and getting him to contact the United Nations – they might still be there now. Fortunately they were res- cued by United Nations staff after two-and-a-half months’ imprisonment and finally sent on a plane to New Zea- land. ‘‘When we arrived in Mt Roskill, we cried when we saw our beautiful house. It gives us great relief to be here, especially for our kids’ education – it’s giving them options for the future,’’ Yunus says. Miriam, 11, and her younger brother Yusuf, 8, missed out on education in Malaysia, but they love their school and are settling in to their new home now. It is the Shofis’ positive attitude which stood out to Refugee Services volunteers Papia Banerjee and Cherie Broom. They have been working with the family as part of the volunteer scheme, which partners community members with a new refugee family. ‘‘Janat and Yunus are always so positive and keen to help out with everything,’’ Ms Broom says. Volunteers assist families in the first six months after arrival, helping them move into a new home, showing them around and generally being a point of support. While the Shofis are at the end of their journey and have finished working with the volunteer group, they say they will all remain close. Things are finally coming together – Janat and Yunus are continuing English classes so they can find better work and Miriam has finally had an operation to heal her scars left from that horrific night. Eleven years seems a long time to be away from their homeland, but the way this family sees it, they’re six months into their new life. ■ Refugee Services Aotearoa offers free volunteer courses for community members wanting to help new refugees settle in to Auckland. Visit www.refugeeservices.org.nz for information on how to get involved, the next course starts this month.
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