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Fusion, a youth sport development programme run by Ignite Sport Trust in collaboration with New Zealand Red Cross, aims to encourage a greater sense of settlement and belonging for youth who have recently left their home country as refugees.
Kids from Colombia, Sudan, Afghanistan, Burma, Sri Lanka, Congo and Syria from the ages of 13-20 all spent time getting to know one-another, playing sports, learning about life in their new home and learning resources to help make things a little easier over a school holiday programme.
Usanthini Saikumar, 16, who prefers to be called Ammu, took part in the programme. Ammu, who arrived from Sri Lanka one and a half years ago, is already fitting in to her new home and has some pretty big dreams for her future.
Ammu says the school holidays were really boring when they first started, but since taking part in this programme she has made plenty of new friends and has loved playing sports and learning more about New Zealand culture.
“Every teacher thinks I’m really smart, but I don’t know why.” Ammu says modestly despite being top of her class this year.
She dreams of becoming an engineer, doctor, accountant, ‘or an air hostess because they’re really pretty.’
“I really don’t know what I want to do but I just focus on everything.
“It’s all really helpful, and the main thing is that everyone is having fun, it should definitely keep happening,” Ammu says.
Alex Britton, coordinator for the programme says this year Fusion has been the best yet.
“We’ve had the highest number of participants take part this year, and have had incredible feedback so far.”
The programme’s overall aim is to strengthen communities, enhance knowledge of services and organisations available to young people as well as have input into positive decision making and goal setting.
Fusion was held in Lower Hutt this year, Porirua, Hamilton and Palmerston North earlier this year attracting more than 20 young Kiwis to each programme.
New Zealand currently accepts around 750 refugees from around the world per year, under the refugee quota.
Meet more extraordinary Kiwis with a refugee background and to learn about New Zealand Red Cross' position on the refugee quota.