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Our Faces, Our Stories - Stockland

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Our Faces,Our StoriesStockland and Fairfield High School | 2010


ContentsOur Faces, Our StoriesMessage from Stockland.................................................................................................................3Message from Fairfield High School....................................................................................4Howra Al-Badri..........................................................................................................................................5Larsa Bijan....................................................................................................................................................6Hieu Bui............................................................................................................................................................7Rosa Chirinos.............................................................................................................................................8Aiah Dauda....................................................................................................................................................9Ephranc Do................................................................................................................................................10Kong Huynh..............................................................................................................................................11Rania Kanaan..........................................................................................................................................12Roumeel Khoshaba...........................................................................................................................13Ameer Mohammad Saeed...........................................................................................................14Mari Salah....................................................................................................................................................15Mu Shi Shi...................................................................................................................................................16Serey Tea......................................................................................................................................................17Lengky Tong..............................................................................................................................................18Pituodemongtero Ung.....................................................................................................................19Sandra Yalda.............................................................................................................................................20Esho Youkhanna...................................................................................................................................21Mariyam Zeia............................................................................................................................................22Thank you....................................................................................................................................................232


A message from StocklandStockland is proud of its continued support of the Our Faces, Our Storiesmentoring program. Now in its third year, this unique program allows Stocklandemployees to mentor students of all ages from Fairfield High School;embarking on a journey of understanding their students’ challenging life experiences.Many of the students have only been in Australia a short time and as you will seefrom reading their stories, some have experienced significant hardships. The studentsdemonstrate an inner strength beyond their years that can only be achieved throughthe endurance of these adversities.Mentors spend time getting to know their students and their life stories. Thispublication showcases those journeys, and in the following pages you will meet sometruly remarkable young men and women.For our employees, the opportunity to be involved in a program of this nature is an eyeopening and valued experience that has resonated within each mentor.This program owes it success to the dedicated teachers and staff of Fairfield HighSchool, and the mentors who all worked together to provide the students with awelcoming and nurturing environment where they felt comfortable sharing theirexperiences.For the students involved, we thank you for your time, your energy and your enthusiasm,and most of all, we thank you for sharing your journeys with us.Regards,Matthew QuinnManaging Director, Stockland3


A message fromFairfield High SchoolWhen I first read the stories from the eighteen special young people featured inthe book I was touched.To have seen so much, lived so much, lost so much so early in a life is at the same timeincredible and inspirational.The stories, although very different, share some common themes:• A journey from a homeland. A loved home, but one they had to leave• Triumph over difficulty and hardship• Happiness and relief at journeys end and joy to settle in Australia, and• A commitment to contribute to their new country and make the most ofthe opportunity givenOf course, the stories shown here are the final product of several drafts and edits.The quality of the stories and artworks is thanks to the students themselves, but alsothe wonderful support they received from their mentors and support staff.I would like to publicly thank Mrs Deefholts and Mrs Hannigan from Fairfield HighSchool who drove the planning for the stories and artworks. It would be remiss ofme not to especially thank our special friends at Stockland who, yet again, wereoutstanding mentors and role models to our students. Speaking to the students, Iknow you will be long and fondly remembered and I hope you found your experienceto be as special as our students did.I believe these very personal tales and images put a human face to the refugeeexperience and go a way towards helping some of our newest Australians embracetheir new country. All our country.Enjoy the read.Robert MulasPrincipal, Fairfield High School4


My storyHowra Al-BadriSuccess is the result ofthe challenge....not theresult of our despair atthe first hurdle we face.Result of the efforts made andthe patience we showed. Whata wonderful feeling, after this weget our desire, after all this!My name is Howra Al-Badri andmy name in my first languagemeans “Big Eyes”. I was born inIran on 21 July 1994. I live withmy parents who are Iraqi born,along with my two sisters andbrother.My family lived in Iran for sevenyears. Life in Iran was hard forus because my parents are Iraqis.The Iranian Governmentdidn’t allow my father to workand if we stayed in Iran I wouldnot have been able to continuemy education at university afterfinishing school. These were therules for all the Iraqi people livingin Iran. So my parents decided toleave Iran and come to Australiaby ship.In 2001, my familyleft Iran and went toMalaysia by aeroplanefor two weeks.I had a fantastic timewith my family. Wewent to a huge shopcalled KLCC, andwent to the zoo. Afterthat we went toIndonesia on a smallship, it was a verylong and scary journey.When we arrived inIndonesia, we hadto travel by ship toreach Australia. Wetravelled alongside200 other people. Itwas the most frighteningjourney of mylife.When we reachedAustralian waters, we couldn’tleave the ship. For fifteen dayswe were inside the ship on theocean, waiting for the government’sdecision. After a longwait, the government decided tosend us back to Indonesia. All ofthe people in the ship were sadand some men tried to kill themselves.This was a very frighteningtime for me, but I can stillremember those events, eventhough I was only seven yearsold.We returned to Indonesia andlived there for seven years. Sevenyears of both fun and sadevents, and seven years withoutformal schooling. My parents educatedme from home, it was likegoing to school every day, I hadto take out my books, pens andlearn. That’s how I learnt how tospeak, read and write in my language,Arabic.Even though I wasn’t born in Iraq,I’m proud that my nationality isIraqi.It was like a dream come truewhen we finally left Indonesiaand came to Australia. On 29May 2009, my family arrived inBrisbane, Australia. At first it washard because everything wasdifferent. I faced problems withthe language because I couldn’tunderstand English, but I washappy at the same time becauseI could finally study and achievemy goals.After two weeks, I went to an IntensiveEnglish Centre. My sisterand I felt lonely at first becausewe had no friends, but after afew days we found some friendsto talk and sit with. After ninemonths, I graduated from the IntensiveEnglish Centre and wentto Year 9 in high school.I really loved Brisbane and thelife there, but my parents decidedto leave Brisbane and moveto Sydney. It was hard for me toleave my school and friends.When I arrived in Sydney, I didnot face any problems with thelanguage because I had alreadystudied English in Brisbane, butthe problem was that I didn’t havefriends in Sydney.I then enrolled in the IntensiveEnglish Centre and studied forone term only. After that I went toYear 10 Access class at FairfieldHigh School.Now, I amstudying in aYear 10 mainstreamclass.I wish to finishschool andachieve mygoals.5


Larsa BijanLarsa’s journeyGood friends are likestars, you don’t alwayssee them but you knowthey’re always there…I was born in Baghdad, Iraq in1992 into a simple Assyrian familyof six people. I was the firstgranddaughter in my parents’family and everyone was happyto have me.I grew up with my grandmother,Nanajan. I stayed with her becausemy parents had to workfrom early morning until 7pm.Nanajan took me to kindergarten,then to primary school. Shewas the one that picked me upfrom school and took me homeeveryday. In 1999 my grandmother,Nanajan, passed away.Everyone was sad because theyloved her dearly. I cried a lotwhen she passed away, and I stillcry when I remember her. Shemeant everything to me; she wasa very good person and I lovedher very much.In 2003, the war started in Iraq.Every day we were anxiousabout what was going to happenand if we were going to stayalive. My parents were scaredto send me to school becausethey worried about me being kidnapped.There was no future forus in Iraq, so we had to leave ourcountry and go to Syria.When I started school in Syria,I found it hard because I didn’thave any friends. The schoolwas large and I didn’t have anyoneto help me to find my class.However, after one week I foundmy old friend, Helda. We grew uptogether and were best friendsback in Iraq. I was so happy tomeet her again in Syria.We lived in Syria for five years,and we applied many times to migrateto a safer country, like Swedenor Australia. We kept hoping,but were rejected time after time.My father couldn’t find work andwe decided to go back to Iraq ifour last application to migrate toAustralia was unsuccessful. Finally,in 2007 we were acceptedby the Australian Government aftertrying seven times.We arrived in Australia in 2008.At first I was scared becauseI couldn’t go anywhere and Icouldn’t speak English, but I wasalso happy to meet my relatives.I’m now in the Year 11 Accessclass at Fairfield High Schoolwhere I have many friends. Iused to go to Fairfield IntensiveEnglish Centre where I learnedhow to read, write and speakEnglish.Despite feeling sad to leave myfriends, relatives and neighboursin Syria; I now feel happy with myfriends andfamily, andcomfortableto be in thiscountry becausehere,we have agood andsafe future.6


My journeyHieu BuiMy name is Hieu and Iwas born in Vietnamon the 9 September1992. I was born intoa small family and I lived with mymother, my aunt and uncle andmy brother.My mother worked for a seafoodfactory for over ten years. It wasa very hard job so she had verylittle time for me. Everyday mymother worked from 6:30am to9pm, sometimes up to 11pm. Istayed home with my brother andmy uncle.My uncle is very young, just nineyears older than me. His motherdied when he was 12 years old.He is a very kind person; he tookcare of me and taught me manythings. He taught me how to bea good person, how to study welland what I should and shouldn’tdo. He is very special to me.My parents separated in 2004,which was a very sad time in mylife. My father moved to a differenttown and my brother and Istayed with my mum. Five yearslater, my mother, brother and Imoved to Australia. We decidedto come to Australia because Ialready had two aunts and oneuncle there.When I got off the plane at theairport I felt strange, but excited.Life is so different here in Australia.Unlike Vietnam, there area lot of trees and birds. The airis fresh, the streets are cleanand the people are very polite.Although I am very happy to behere, I do miss my friends in Vietnam.Three months after I arrived inAustralia, I started school atFairfield High. At first, I studiedEnglish in the Intensive EnglishCentre. In the beginning, I foundit difficult to understand what theteachers were saying, howeverafter a few weeks I found it mucheasier. Studying in Australia ismore comfortable than in mycountry.I have met some new friends atschool. We spend time togetherat school and sometimes go outon the weekends. The one thingwe all have in common is our loveof soccer. My favourite team isManchester United.When I finish school, I hope towork in mining because I’m interestedin natural resources. I amvery happy with my new life and Iwill work hard to achieve my ambitions.7


Rosa ChirinosMy journeyMy name is Rosa Chirinos.I was born inLima, Peru on 6 August1994 and my firstlanguage is Spanish. Peru hasfewer cultures than Australia andthe biggest difference is that allsuburbs in Peru are noisier thanhere. Peru has a large populationin a small area, which createstraffic jams with horns blaring.In Peru, our family lived nearmy aunty and grandparents, sowe visited each other often. Myfamily travelled to many placestogether. In 2001 my family andI travelled to Bolivia, a countrynear Peru, to visit my uncle andhis family who lived there. Thatwas the first time I met my cousin.I visited some other cities inmy country like Arequipa, Huancayo,Junín and Tacna. It was anamazing experience. I have familyin most of these cities.At school in Lima, I enjoyed playingvolleyball and basketball. Iwas in the school’s basketballteam for five years. I also tookswimming classes and learnt karatefor a short time.My parents used to talk to myaunty who lived in Australia; shewould always tell them that it wasa wonderful country to live in. So,my parents applied to migrate toAustralia, but were refused. Afterthat, my father decided to travelto Argentina to work because hecould not find work in Peru.After two years, my family gota student visa for Australia, butonly my mother and my fathercould come here. So I stayedin my country with my “mamy”(grandmother). I went to schoolduring the time I stayed with her.I also visited my other grandmotherwho lived near our home.Then two years later, I joined myparents in Australia.I was 15 years old when I arrivedin Australia. I knew only myparents and some relatives, butmade new friends from differentcountries such as Afghanistan,Iran, Iraq, Vietnam, Thailand,Cambodia, Colombia, Mexico,Chile, China and Peru. I improvedmy English by talking tothem and I learned about theirculture and traditions. I’m now inYear 10 and when I finish school,I hope to go to university andstudy to be a doctor.What I miss most about Peru ismy family and friends. I like mylife in Australia, it is calm andnice.8


My lifeAiah DaudaMy name is Aiah Daudaand I was born inKona, Africa in 1995.I lived with my mumand my brothers; my father diedbefore I got to know him.When I was three years old myfamily moved to Sierra Leoneand lived in a small house nearthe sea. When the tide went outmy friends and I used to partyand play soccer on the beach.My favourite soccer team isManchester United.The thing I loved most aboutSierra Leone was Christmas. AtChristmas we got to do a lot offun things and watch many goodaction movies that we hadn’tseen before.At first, when I heard my familywas moving to Australia I wasexcited because I wanted tosee how different Australiawas to Sierra Leone. Australiahas trains, traffic lights andkangaroos. On the day we left forAustralia we were sad, as we hadto leave our country and friends.It took us three days to reachAustralia because we had tochange planes in three differentcountries. I had a good time onthe journey, it was the first time Ihad flown in an aeroplane.I was 11 years old when my familyarrived in Australia. My auntypicked us up from the airport andwe lived with her in Merrylands.After five months we found ourown house in Parramatta and theAustralian Government gave useverything we needed to settle incomfortably.My two older brothers weren’tliving with us as they decided tolive in Fairfield.In Parramatta, I went to ArthurPhillip High School for threemonths and then attended theIntensive English Centre for ayear to improve my English.After two years, my youngerbrother and I decided to live withour older brothers in Fairfield.My younger brother and Ienrolled at Fairfield High Schooland we have been attending fortwo years. He is in Year 7 and Iam in Year 10.The subjects I enjoy most atFairfield High School are Sport,English andComputerStudies, andmy favouritesport issoccer.9


Ephranc DoMy journeyIwas born on 6 February 1994at Que Ka Loke refugee campin the west of Thailand. Afew years later my family wasforced to move to Maela refugeecamp after the Burmese soldiersinvaded and destroyed our home.Life in the refugee camp wasvery difficult. We did not haveelectricity to use and our housewas built using wood and palmfronds. The Thai soldiers compoundhad barbed wire aroundthe camp, and sometimes weweren’t allowed to go outside ofthe camp grounds.When I was a child I never wantedto go outside of the camp becausemy parents told me it wasextremely dangerous. I was alwaysscared and worried that theBurmese soldiers would comeand destroy our home again.While living at Maela camp, mydad built a new primary schooland started teaching. At theschool we did not have books,stationary or any learning aides.We could not study at home becausewe did not have electricityand we could only use candlesfor night study.In 2005, I went to live with my unclewho had Thai citizenship. Hetook care of me and enrolled meto study at a Thai school. I studiedat the school for two yearswhere I met a lot of new friends.I learnt many new things, includingThai and English languages,computer skills and the history ofThailand. I also played a lot ofsoccer when I was there. I wasselected for the school team andwe played against other schools.Sometimes, on the weekends,I went to visit my family at thecamp, and during the 2006school holidays, I visited Bangkokwith my cousin and we wentto many different places.In 2007 the UNHCR gave therefugees a chance to apply fora visa. My parents sent an applicationto live Australia. In July2008, my family received thegood news and got the opportunityto migrate to Australia.On 23 July 2008, my family andI arrived in Australia as migrants.We set up home in a town housein Mount Druitt and I startedschool at Blacktown High School.After three months we moved toFairfield Heights to be closer tothe Karen Community in Sydneyand I started school at FairfieldHigh School. For the first year Iwas in the Intensive English Centrewhere I developed my Englishskills.Now, I live in Fairfield Heightswith my family and I’m studyingYear 10 at Fairfield High School.When I finish Year 12, I will go toTAFE and try my best to achievemy goals.When I’m not at school I spendmy time playing soccer andhanging out with my friends.10


My motherKong HuynhMost of all the otherbeautiful things in lifecome by twos andthrees, by dozens andhundreds. Plenty of roses, stars,sunsets, rainbows, brothers andsister, comrades and friends –but there is only one mother inthe whole world.I was born in Can Tho City in1992. Can Tho was a very poorcity, however my family was welloff as my grandpa had many cultivatedlands. We used to hirefarmers to work on the fields andwe earned money from sellingour products.My father was the fifth son in thefamily. He studied at university inSai Gon City for four years andhoped he would find a good job.Many graduates couldn’t get jobsas the government changed fromrepublic to communism. After awhile, my dad gave up looking fora job and came back to Can ThoCity.After my dad returned my parentshad another child. My mumdid needle works so she couldbuy milk for my sister. My motherwas just earning 1000VND (fivecents) for fixing one shirt. It wasa hard time for her. My dad juststayed at home and did not work.My grandpa was a very good andkind man. My mother said hehelped and did a lot of things forher; however my grandma wasvery hard on her. She only gavemy mother enough money to buy1kg of meat per week to feed tenpeople. My mother had to fry itwith a lot of salt, so you had toeat it with a lot of rice and it didn’ttaste very nice. This was a difficulttime for my mother. She toldme that story in tears.My mother continued to live withmy grandparents until I was twoyears old. After five years, mymother went to Sai Gon City tolive with her aunt. We all lived ina dormitory for students in polytechnics.My mother also helpedher aunt to keep the students’bikes. My mother worked from5am to 12am seven days a weekto earn nine hundred thousandVND (fifty six dollars) per month.Two years later, my sister, motherand I moved in with my maternalgrandmother and her brother inher uncle’s house. It was a bighouse and I had everything Ineeded to study. My mother continuedto work for her aunt, butshe tried to find another job soshe didn’t have to work so long.She left home when I was asleepand came home at midnight. Iwas very young, but I wanted toget work to help my mother so Icould spend more time with her.This life was too hard for our family.At this time, my maternal grandmothertook care of me and mysister with the support of mymother. My maternal grandmotherused my mother’s money tobuy yoghurt for me and my sisterevery weekend. One day mymother’s brother got angry over amisunderstanding about food andpunched my mother very hard. Iwas so angry I took a big stickand hit him. He kicked me hard,broke my bones and I had to stayin hospital for two weeks. Eventhough I was in pain, I was happybecause my mother stayed in thehospital with me.After I got home from hospital,I studied very hard and got thehighest marks in many subjects.I found that I had an interest inbuildings; I decided I want to bean architect. I am trying my bestin Maths so that I can becomeone.In 2009, my family came to Australiawith the support of my stepdad.I feel very happy to live here.My mother has done a lot ofthings for me and now it is timefor me to help her. I love you verymuch mymother, youare the bestmother in thisgalaxy.11


Rania KanaanMy family storyMy family’s story is thestory of my travelsfrom Iraq to Australia.I was born in the city ofBasra, Iraq in 1990 and grew upin a large and loving home withmy parents, four brothers andthree sisters.In 1996 I started going to school.My first day of kindergarten wasexciting, but scary, I was soscared, I was crying, but I soongot used to it. In 1997 I startedprimary school and studied hardfor six years. My reward for myhard studies was the ability tospeak three different languages.These are Chaldean, Arabic andEnglish.When I finished primary schoolin 2003, the war started in Iraqand we had to stay home all daybecause it was very dangerous.This upset me because I enjoyedschool and was not allowed to go.12Later that year, we received someexciting news that my sister wasgetting married in my family village,Telskouf, and we were ableto go to the wedding.One day in 2004, a terrible eventoccurred that made us decide toleave our homeland, Iraq. Whilstone of my brothers was walkingto the shop from our house, acar pulled over, two men jumpedout, dragged him into the carand drove off. They demandeda large ransom in return for mybrother. My parents were forcedto pay this money to get mybrother back home safely. Wehad no other choice, but to makethe decision to leave Iraq.In 2005 my family moved to Lebanon.Life was difficult there. Iloved my studies, but as I had towork to help my family I missedthree years of schooling. Mybrothers and sisters also workedduring this difficult time.We missed our life in Iraq and listenedto the news every day as itwas the only way we could findout what was happening in ourhome country.My parents wanted a better futurefor our family and decidedto apply for asylum in Australia.In 2007 we were accepted to migrateto Australia, and we arrivedin Australia on the 3 July 2008.I was grateful and happy to beable to continue my studies inthis country. Now, I am a studentat Fairfield High School and havemany friends here.I feel comfortable, safe and happyto be in Australia. It gives methe opportunity to expand myEnglish language through mystudies at Fairfield High School,and socialising with people in myneighbourhood. As much as Imiss and love my country, I findcomfort in knowing that I havea bright future ahead of me, ina wonderful country I now callhome.


Music tomy earsRoumeel KhoshabaMusic has been an importantpart of my journeyto Australia. It hashelped me to learn, tofeel safe and has allowed me toexpress myself.I was born in Iraq in 1993 and Ispeak three languages – Assyrian,Arabic and English. I startedschool in 1998 when I wassix years of age and continuedschooling until Year 6. The teachersat my school were strict andwould often beat the children, itwasn’t fun at all.Then, my world changed for ever.The war started between Americaand Iraq, so we fled to Jordanto save ourselves from death.Once we were in Jordan my dadapplied to migrate to Australia,but we were rejected. He appliedtwice again, but we were still refusedentry.In 2005, I started working as awaiter to support my family andwent to church in my spare time.At church I joined a program tolearn how to play the keyboards.I worked very hard to improve mykeyboard skills and the churchinvited me to play hymns to accompanythe choir. I continuedworking for four years withoutstudying or having good opportunitiesfor the future. However,studying and practicing my musicgave me a lot of enjoyment.One day when I was at church,I prayed to Jesus to let us go toAustralia. When I came homefrom church, I asked my dad toreapply to Australia. At first hesaid no, but I told him to trust meand apply again. Thankfully, helistened to me because we werefinally accepted. This was ‘musicto my ears’ and I thanked God forgiving me hope for a better future.In 2009 we flew to Australia and itwas the best day of my life. I sawmy cousins at the airport and Ihugged them with all my heartas I had not seen them for morethan ten years. I had an amazingtwo weeks, spending time withmy family and cousins, visitingthe city, going to Manly Beach,having picnics and going shopping.After my holiday, I enrolled at FairfieldHigh School, which mademe so happy. School is helpingme to learn English and will giveme a chance for a better future.Now, I havemany friendsand have lotsof fun. I havethe freedomto play sport,listen to musicand enjoylife.13


Ameer Mohammad SaeedThe daysI will neverforget...We have to leavequickly. Be readyin four hours, my fathersaid.I was speechless. How would lleave everything behind, my family,my house, my friends?It was early morning on the 5May 2005 when we left Baghdad.We travelled by car to Jordan aswe were trying to leave our lifebehind. I was only thirteen, andI was too young to know what layahead.The journey took two days andwe were exhausted when wereached Jordan.In Jordan, my father felt safeenough to tell us the reason whywe left Iraq. He told us that hehad been threatened by terroristswho said they would kill hischildren unless we left our house.My dad could not bear the thoughof that, so he took us away fromthe danger as soon as he possiblycould.School in Jordan was very difficultbecause I felt I was not acceptedand often ridiculed. Also,I felt my family needed financialsupport and that I would be betteroff working than going toschool in Jordan. So, I madeup my mind to help my familyby working rather than going toschool. I worked in a gift shopin Jordan for four years, which Ienjoyed very much. My brotheralso worked in Jordan in a children’swear store.My dad originally told us wewould go back to Iraq in threemonths. However, he hoped wewould migrate to Australia, whichwas much better for our future.So, we combined our money togetherto migrate to Australia.We sacrificed a lot of our familytime while we were in Amman inorder to meet our family goals.In 2009, we moved to Sydneyand I started school at FairfieldIntensive English Centre. Now, Iam in Year 11 and look forwardto undertaking the HSC. Afterschool, I hope to study to becomean interpreter and youth worker,and help people like I have beenhelped in my life.Right now, I’m excited about whatthe future holds for my family. I’malso glad that my family is in asafe place, and we are pleasedwith our decision to migrate toAustralia.14


My storyMari SalahMy name is Mari Salahand I was born in Iraqon 1 April 1994. I havean older brother – Maethamwho is 20 years old, ayounger sister - Ban who is 13years old, and a younger brother– Yahia who is only 6 years old.I was in Year 5 at school when thewar in Iraq started. I was forcedto leave the school because itwas destroyed. One year afterthe war started, my family decidedto move to Jordan becauseof the worsening situation in Iraq.We were in danger because weare Christians. My cousin waskilled and my family was threatenedbecause of our religion.We stayed in Jordan for one year.I didn’t go to school in Jordan becausethe school only had Muslimstudents. My family lived togetherin one house and we wentto many places like the zoo, park,swimming pool and shoppingcentre. However, our future wasuncertain.After one year, in 2005, I wentto Syria with my family. We livedwith my aunty and uncle in onehouse. After a month, I wentto school and studied for threeyears, in Years 6, 7 and 8. I likedliving in Syria.I liked my teachers and the studentsat the school. I miss themand I miss my best friend, Noly.She was a good friend to me andsometimes she helped me withmy studies.After three years, in 2008, I cameto Australia with my family byplane. We lived in my aunty’shouse for two months. Duringthis time, I went fishing inthe Georges River, went to theswimming pool and to the OperaHouse.After that, we moved to anotherhouse and I started at the IntensiveEnglish Centre to learnEnglish. I liked the I.E.C, all theteachers helped the students tolearn English. After four months,I went to Fairfield High School tocontinue my studies.I am now inYear 10 andwould like tofinish Year12. I hopeto continuelearning andimproving mylife througheducation.15


Mu Shi ShiMy life so farIwas born on 6 March 1993 ata refugee camp in Thailand,where my family lived for fiveyears.There are nine people in my family;my mother and father, mythree sisters and three brothers,who still live in Thailand. I amthe eldest sister in the family, andI live with my aunt and uncle inAustralia.In 2008, I moved to the city ofMea Hong Son to learn English,Thai and Karen languages withmy cousin. I had just one year tostudy and learn three languages.I wanted to improve my English,so I came to Australia with myuncle’s family and have been livinghere since 8 January 2009. Ilike Australia because I have thechance to study at school. I alsohave many friends and I enjoyplaying volleyball with them.I want to stay in Australia and attenduniversity because I want tobe a nurse one day.16


Grains of goldSerey TeaMy name is Serey Teaand I was born inPhnom Penh in 1991.There are seven peoplein my family – I am the eldestsibling; I have two brothers andthree sisters. I can also speakthree languages - Thai, Khmerand English.In 1998, I started schooling inCambodia and studied from primaryschool to Year 10 in highschool before I came to Australia.Before I came to Australia myfamily owned a rice farm. Beforerice grows the seeds have to beplanted one by one. We used toplant millions of seeds in the paddyfields. First, we had to growthe seeds to a plant, then waitfor three months until the plantgrows half a meter high. Afterthat time, the grains of rice beginto grow. The grains of rice startoff a green colour and after timethey turn to gold, that’s when youknow they’re ripe.When the rice is ripe, we wouldcut the plants and throw the riperice into a machine that separatedthe grain from the plant. Thenwe dry the grain and throw it intoanother machine that changesthe colour of the rice to a whitecolour. My family had to hire labourersto help because therewas a lot of work to be done, theywould help put the rice in hundredkilo bags. The rice was thentaken to the shops to be sold.My job on the farm was to drivethe tractor to the shops with therice. I also fed the animals –ducks, pigs and chickens.On 17 October 2008, my familyand I left my hometown to migrateto Australia. The hardestpart was saying goodbye to myrelatives. At the airport, I walkedover to the elevator and I lookeddown, I saw my relatives leavethe airport and tears startedstreaming down my face.The plane ridewas very exciting.The planewas flying veryhigh and aftertwo hours I arrivedat Malayairport where westopped over forthree hours. Ihad time to walkand look aroundat the airport. Itwas much biggerthan my country’sairport and itlooked very comfortable.Afterthree hours, myfamily left the airportfor Australia.On the morningof 18 October2008, my familyand I arrived in Australia. We arrivedat Sydney airport at 8:30am.My uncle and his daughter werewaiting for us. I was so excitedbecause I hadn’t seen them fora long time. On the way to myuncle’s house I saw a lot of carsand buildings. The roads werevery wide and the buildings werevery tall.We arrived at their house andlater went to Cabramatta to havesome lunch. I saw many Asianpeople from many different culturesand this made me feel comfortablein my new environment.I have been in Australia for oneand a half years now, and feelvery hopefulabout myfuture. I feelthat I canachieve mygoal of becomingametal engineer.17


Lengky TongMy life has changedMy name is LengkyTong and I was bornin Phnom Penh in1992. I have a brotherand sister. I can speak two languages– Khmer and English. Ihad been living in Cambodia forseventeen years until my familydecided to migrate to Australia in2009 to start a new life.My life started with a miraculousevent when I was only threeyears old. I was playing in thegarage while my uncle was reversingthe car. I was hit by thecar and fell to the ground. I wascrying, but he couldn’t hear meuntil he completely reversed outof the garage. When he realisedhe hit me, I was seriously injured.My parents took me to the hospitaland the doctor told them thatI could have died if I didn’t getthere in time.My secondary education beganin 2005, in Cambodia. After fouryears, my parents decided tomove me to another school thathad better facilities.The new school was very expensiveand my parents had to workvery hard to afford the fees. Mydad found a job as a courier topay for my schooling.In 2009, when I was 17 yearsold, my family moved to Australiato start a new life so that I couldreceive a better education andlive in a better environment. Weare very happy to start our newlives here, knowing Australia hasa good culture and lifestyle, butit has been hard to adjust to ournew lives in this new country.I think the most challenging thingwhen I arrived in Australia wasthe language barrier. When I firststarted at Fairfield High School, Ifound it hard to learn because Idid not know much English. I feltlucky to make some friends andwe helped each other to learn.Another good thing is that wehave some family who alreadylived in Australia, and they havehelped us settle in. They havehelped me find to a part timejob, so I can help my parents paysome expenses.One thing I have noticed is thatpeople in Australia seem to workmore than in Cambodia. My fatheris working more than he everhas. When we lived in Cambodia,my dad ran the house andmost of the time he was at home.My house in Cambodia was verylarge; we had five bedrooms anda backyard garden. We grew lotsof fruits such as mangoes andbananas. We had plenty of roomfor chickens, ducks, fish and adog. My dad would take us forpicnics on the weekend, but nowit’s hard to spend time togetherbecause I work part-time on theweekend.At the end of the day, eventhough it was hard at the beginningto start our new lives in thisnew country, I am sure we willhave a better life and future here,than the country I came from. Iwill always miss Cambodia andwill try and visit home every year.18


Khmer pridePituodemongtero UngMy name is PituodemongteroUng and Iwas born in the year1990 in Cambodia. Iwas born two months prematureand was extremely ill; I couldnot drink milk, only water andwas extremely small in my earlyyears. When I was five years oldmy health improved and I startedattending school in 1998.The kingdom of Cambodia is approximatelythe size of the stateof Missouri, located in SoutheastAsia. It is bordered on the westand northwest by Thailand, onthe north by Laos, on the east byVietnam and on the south by theGulf of Thailand.In 1999, my grandfather owneda jewellery store and one day hewas robbed and shot on his wayhome. They stole all the jewelleryand money from the store.After this, my family wanted toleave this province, but we had towait until we could find a place inthe city. This took six years.I moved to Phom Phenh City in2006 with my family. We boughta house in the city and I went toa private high school where westudied English. I had lots offriend in school and we playedsoccer and table tennis everyday.My mother met my step fatherduring this time and he started todo our papers to sponsor us tocome to Australia.In 2009 the paper work was approvedand we moved to Australia.We were very excited.After two months in Australia, Ienrolled in the Intensive EnglishCentre. I have been studyingEnglish for nine months and nowI am in Year 11 at Fairfield HighSchool. After arriving in Australiamy mother gave birth to mysister, Elizabeth who is now tenmonths old.When I finish Year 12, I would liketo join the Australian Army. Myfather in Cambodia is an Army officerand I look up to him, I think itwould make him proud.I love living in Australia, but I domiss my family and friends. I amgoing back to Cambodia nextyear on a holiday, and I’m lookingforwardto seeing myfamily andfriends.19


Sandra YaldaMy journeyto AustraliaMy name is Sandra Yaldaand I’m 16 yearsold. This is the storyabout my life in Iraq,how I came to Australia and why.I was born in Baghdad, the capitalof Iraq in November 1993. Ihave two brothers and a sister,all of whom are older than me.My family lived in Iraq for aroundfourteen years and this is where Istarted my schooling.Life in Iraq was happy for eachindividual Iraqi because it wassafe and we had our rights, butthen life got harder and harderbecause of the threatening war inour country. Every good momentturned to a very hard situation.In 2003, the war started in Iraq,so my family moved to a smallvillage called Alqosh in northIraq. We lived in the village forone year and it was more peacefulthere. When the war settleddown we came back to Baghdad.I was really happy to move backbecause I had missed my friends,however, at the same time, I wasalso scared because the warcontinued to threaten my family.In Iraq, my dad had his own carpentryshop. My brother, Sarmadworked with him and togetherthey built furniture includingbeautiful chairs, tables and sofabeds.One day when my dad andSarmad were working, terroristscame into the shop and setit on fire. They beat my brotherand kidnapped him for four days.The terrorists demanded a largeamount of money for his return.My family, including my auntygave the money to the terroristsso we could get him home safely.We left our home in Iraq for Syriaand lived there for two and a halfyears. I started school in Syriaand I enjoyed it very much, but wefound life very hard. My brothersdid not go to school because theyhad to work to support our family;they worked very long hours.In Syria I joined a church youthgroup and went on many excursions.I felt happy because I waswith my best friend Stiphany whoalways made me happy duringmy sad times. She was my besthelper while I was in Syria.After all the hard times, my familydecided to migrate to Australiafor a better life and education. Myfamily got so excited when we finallygot our visa and we startedpreparing for our journey. My unclewas already in Australia andhe helped us with the move.I started school one month afterarriving in Australia. It was toughas I didn’t know any English, butafter studying in the IntensiveEnglish Centre for one year, myEnglish improved. Every day Ikeep improving my English.I have now lived in Australia forone and a half years and havemade some really good friends.When I leave school, I would liketo study tourism and one daywork in a hotel.20


My storyEsho YoukhannaIwas born in Nineveh in 1990,in a small village called Telkef.I was very happy because Ihad a loving family - a smallfamily, but very close.I started primary school in 1996where I made a lot of friends; weenjoyed playing soccer togetherand playing with the new additionto my family, my pet dog calledDonny.One day, when we least expectedit, a disaster occurred. Itchanged my family’s life for ever.I remember that black day; it wasabout ten days before my familyhad planned to flee Iraq. Theterrorists started threatening us,demanding that my family leaveIraq because of our religion, weare Christian. When my familywas threatened it hurt us.No one can change the truth ofour history; the Christian religionexisted before the Muslim religionand we should have beenallowed to practice our faith. Historytells the world about us, weare the original people of Iraqand no one can change the truth.One terrible day the terroristscalled us again to plant fear in ourhearts. My father did not knowwhat to do. We decided that wehad no choice but to leave forJordan.The first day in Jordan we werevery tired from our journey. Wecould not believe that we had escapedIraq and that we were safe.Not one of us wanted to eat anything.I slept for two days. Lifewas difficult in Jordan because ofthe strict laws of the governmentfor Iraqi refugees. We were notallowed to work, and we couldnot study in public schools as wedid not have the right of permanentresidency.The churches started helpingIraqi refugees by building smallschools to teach and help themin different ways. We lived in Jordanfor five years under extremelydifficult circumstances.Finally, the United Nations acceptedus as refugees and thenwe migrated to our new country,Australia.I am veryhappy withmy life in thiscountry. Australiais theperfect placewhere I canachieve mydream.21


Mariyam ZeiaJourney of my lifeEverything is possible for himwho believes. Mark 9:23This is the story of my life andhow it was difficult to come andsettle here in Australia. I wasborn in Iraq in 1992. I was tooyoung to know what was goingon at that time, but my parentstold me about what happenedand how we overcame the difficultiesto get to Australia.I left Iraq with my family in 1995,when I was three years of age.My family migrated to Jordanbecause my parents wanted mysister and I to be safe; they knewthat the situation in Iraq was goingto worsen.I lived a happy and safe life withmy family in Jordan. I went to aprivate school because at thattime, the government rules werevery strict and they did not acceptrefugees in their public schools.My parents were very keen forus to have a good education sowe could have a good future.Year after year, I was growing upknowing that the country that wewere applying for refused us severaltimes, but I was still able tostay focused because I was goingto school and concentratingon my education.The Jordanian Government hadvery strict rules and they did notallow Iraqis to work in Jordan.The police caught my fatherworking as a carpenter, he hadno choice, we didn’t have anyoneto help us. The Jordanian Governmentsent my dad back toIraq. Our family was separated,with my dad in Iraq and my mum,sister and myself in Jordan. Itwas a really tough situation becausewe were children and hadno other family there.My dad called my family fromIraq, he told us he was going toTurkey, and we should get ourselvesready to migrate.In 2003 we arrived in Turkey, Istarted at a small refugee schooland began learning English. Ifound it hard in the beginning tofind new friends but it got easierlater on. I studied there for threeyears and I joined the school’schurch choir.During 2006 I became an Englishteacher; I taught younger boysand girls the English alphabet tostart with, and then I took moreadvanced classes and taughtthem for another three years.That was a really wonderful experiencein my life and I will neverforget it.2008 was definitely the best yearbecause after refusing us entry toAustralia nine times, we were acceptedby the United Nations program.That was the best time forus, we were getting ready, buyingclothes and all sort of things thatwe may need. We departed Turkeyon the 8 April 2009, on the 9April we arrived here in Australia.I was very excited to start a newlife here. I will never forget thefourteen years overseas. Theywere tough, but good times.22


Thank youMentorsAmanda MurphyAmanda PickfordDannielle ColemanRyan CrillyJoseph FrancisJulie BartholomewJulie-Anne HaleNicole Jackson-SmeeLiza MarisTine Mata-TutaniLydia MooreLyndall BanksMark GailbraithLiz KotevskiStephen MassoudKate RudzynJose SanchezMelanie WilsonSuzy UpcroftFairfield HighSchool StaffRobert MulasPrincipalMark SargeantDeputy PrincipalProgram CoordinatorSylvia DeefholtsClass TeacherKathleen HanniganArtworksAndrew DownieLibrarianCateringKanteen KonnectionsStocklandStaffLiza MarisStockland MerrylandsMarketing ManagerOur Faces, Our StoriesCoordinatorSuzy UpcroftCommunity Involvement CoordinatorOur Faces, Our StoriesContactRoving MentorsFred BiraBrooke LeeNatalie Myatt23


StocklandLevel 25, 133 Castlereagh StreetSydney NSW 2000, AustraliaTelephone: (02) 9035 2000Fax: (02) 8988 2000www.stockland.com.au

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