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New Zealand Red Cross’ 'Get to know me' campaign aims to break to down barriers and celebrate the incredible people who have arrived here as refugees.
Profiles of Kiwis from refugee backgrounds will be featured on posters alongside a bit about themselves.
Rachel O’Connnor from New Zealand Red Cross says the campaign is simple – Red Cross wants Kiwis to get to know each other.
“There’s been a lot of talk in New Zealand about refugees recently and it’s been on the news a lot, but many New Zealanders might not know someone who has been a refugee.
“The thing that strikes me most about the wonderful people I meet isn’t the hardships they’ve been through – although admittedly most of have remarkable stories of resilience: crossing borders carrying their children, leaving lives and loved ones in order to escape persecution and find safety – it’s the similarities.
“Former refugees are no different to you or I. They are just ordinary people who have faced extraordinary circumstances. I recently heard of a Syrian family who’s most immediate challenge in New Zealand was getting their teenage daughter to tidy her room!
“It’s so important that we recognise the people behind the stories and conflict.”
For one of the campaign’s stars, Giselle Iradukunda, originally from Rwanda and now a student of political science and international relations at Victoria University, being in New Zealand means she is free to pursue her dreams.
Free from fear and the social restrictions associated with being female in Rwanda, Giselle says that in New Zealand she can follow her heart.
She is proud to be a Kiwi and wants others to get to know her as a writer, advocate and student – three words she chose to describe herself.
“We have been overwhelmed by support and generosity people have shown our refugee resettlement programmes over the past few months.
“New Zealanders are welcoming people and we know that communities will do all they can to help new Kiwis feel at home.”
The campaign is about an exchange of our stories. New arrivals also want to get to know their neighbours. Developing a community and making friendships in your new home is important for anyone resettling in a new town.
New Zealand currently accepts 750 refugees a year under its quota system, with an additional 600 places available for Syrian refugees over the next two and a half years.
New Zealand Red Cross believes we can – and should – do more, by increasing the quota.