Our organisation and families in the news
Wagga Yazidis remember those killed in Kojo Village genocide- AUGUST 15 2019 - 8:00PM
Photos 1 to 11 from Daily Advertiser, photos 12 to 14 from ABC Riverina.
Ray Goodlass visits Palestine yearly for peace activism projects
Daily Advertiser, Annie Lewis: JULY 18 2019 - 9:00PM
Ray Goodlass is a well-known face around Wagga, but there is one thing that some of you might not know about him. Every year he makes a special trip overseas to help at a refugee camp.
Mr Goodlass said he had thought of peace volunteering for several years, but work and then council responsibilities came first.
Like the aspirations of many, day-to-day realities took over, but then the time came when he finally had the days to do what he wanted.
He has never shied away from a big project or wearing his political colours on his sleeve, so once he was fully retired Mr Goodlass decided to make peace activism his major project.
"I went online to find volunteering opportunities and there were hundreds, many about helping to rebuild civic society in post conflict situations," he said. "But me, being resolved to find the most intractable ongoing conflict I could find, settled on Israel and Palestine."
Mr Goodlass said he settled on the plight of the Palestinians as the focus of his activism.
"The peace projects suited my personal political beliefs," he said. "It was definitely outside the comfort zone from being a cultural tourist to Europe or a family tourist to the UK."
Mr Goodlass set off on his eighth trip to the conflict zone on Wednesday.
"I've learnt in my older age that when something comes up, don't dither about," he said.
His work in 2014 included cleaning out a house in Bethlehem shelled by the Israelis and clearing the land of a Bethlehem olive farmer whose property was surrounded by Israeli settlers who threatened to take over his land if he left it unoccupied. It has not always been smooth sailing.
At one point Mr Goodlass found himself being attacked by Israel Defence Forces soldiers using tear gas.
The attack occurred on March 21, 2014, in Nabi Saleh, north of Ramallah, which also saw Palestinian villagers injured when rubber bullets were fired upon them.
The IDF's actions saw Mr Goodlass rendered "totally helpless".
"I was tear gas attacked by Israel army in West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, rendered helplessly, rescued by Freedom Bus friends," he tweeted on the day.
The event didn't scare him off however as he continued to make the trek each year.
"I started to do drama work with the kids," Mr Goodlass said. "I would play non-verbal games with them, but I decided I needed to learn Arabic."
Mr Goodlass defines the Arabic word 'sumud' as resilience and steadfastness, adding it was a common trait among those he met every trip.
In 2018, a film-maker decided to document Mr Goodlass' work. In the film, young people in the Aida Refugee Camp, Bethlehem, dramatise their stories of living under the continuing Israeli occupation.
"In my seventh annual volunteer visit to Palestine I devised and directed verbatim stories by a group of young actors in the Alrowwad Culture Centre," he said.
"Some of the stories include detail of how the students' families were driven from their homes by the invading Israelis in 1947 and 1948 and all show what life is like living under the continuing Israeli occupation.
"This hour-long film also features interviews with several of the actors, the director of Alrowwad, and depicts everyday life in the camp, which has been in existence since 1948."
What he has taken away from his experience was a better understanding of the conflict and its impact on the Palestinian people, which he now wants to share with Wagga.
"What the Israelis are doing is taking away the memories, culture and history of the Palestinian people," Mr Goodlass said.
"The most frightening thing is how the original refugee tents turned into concrete houses, giving a sense of permanence to their situation. It made you think there was almost no hope for these people and feel the sense of hopelessness that exists."
Mr Goodlass said the hospitality and the resilience of the Palestinian people continues to inspire him.
"On my first trip, a man asked us volunteers to be an ambassador for Palestine," he said. "That's what I am doing and will continue to do."
Their resilience is why Mr Goodlass ended the stage production by giving the father character the line "but we are resilient people and celebrate our culture".
"Then the lighting changed, the music came up, and the cast all went into their traditional dance, the dabka," he said.
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June 7 2019
Wagga Amnesty Group commits to letter writing campaign in aid of human rights
JUNE 7 2019
Wagga's Yazidi members meet with Refugee Council of Australia to spread advocacy efforts
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Jess Whitty- May 20 2019
REFUGEE HEALTH AND WELLBEING
Wagga Multicultural Council supports new Australian citizens through the federal election
Makeup of Wagga: Izera proudly wears Burundian fashion
15 May 2019
Wagga's Buddhist community light up lanterns to celebrate Vesak
13 May 2019
Makeup of Wagga: Creating a business showcasing Nigerian fashion
8 May 2019
Makeup of Wagga: Fashion from Constance's tribe in Sudan- MAY 1 2019 - 11:10AM
Wagga holds candlelight vigil in memory of Sri Lanka bombing victims
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APRIL 23 2019 - 4:00PM
Prime 7 Potowa group Meditation
19 April 2019
Yazidi New Year 2019
The Yazidi celebrations for New Year were covered by the Daily Advertiser (see article and photos below).
More photos of the Yazidi New Year were taken by the team at the Daily Advertiser:
Makeup of Wagga: Geeta Parajuli brings a piece of Nepal to Australian fashion
Annie Lewis 16 April
Wagga Multicultural Council arts project to inspire young people towards more cultural celebrations
Makeup of Wagga: Fashion inspired by Filipino heroines
Wagga United start Pascoe Cup season with 6-0 win over Cootamundra
Daily Advertiser, April the 2nd, 2019
Story by Annie Lewis
Front page story about our Refugee Youth Peer Mentoring Program, following our barbecue event and mentee-led film project! We are looking for more mentors, so please get in touch if you are interested.
This story really tugs at our heartstrings!
At a little garden in Wagga, immigrants have been sowing the seeds for diversity, planting fruit and vegetables from their motherlands. From that paddock, to a party, the produce will be showcased at the upcoming Fusion Festival.
Yazidi women, Diyana Gundor, was persecuted in her homeland of Iraq..eventually finding safety in Australia.
Now, two years after arriving in Wagga, english lessons have allowed her to thrive.. integrating into the community and selling her ever popular flatbread...
Candle light Vigil WIN NEWS
Hundreds of candles have been lit and flowers laid in Wagga's Victory Memorial Gardens in the wake of the tragic events in Christchurch.
In a display of solidarity, people from all walks of life have come together to show the city's Muslim community support and love.
Wagga's Candlelight Night Vigil for Christchurch victims sees hundreds gather in Victory Memorial Garden
MARCH 18 2019 - 9:00AM, Annie Lewis
More than 400 people gathered in the Victory Memorial Garden's to mourn those lost in the Christchurch terrorist attack and show support for Wagga's own Muslim community.
On Friday, two gunmen opened fire at two central Christchurch mosques, Al Noor and Linwood, killing more than 40 people.
Muslims and non-Muslims alike gathered on Sunday in Wagga to honour the lives lost and show acts of terrorism have no place in any community.
Dr Ata Ur Rehman said he had been sent the video of the massacre and could not believe what he was seeing.
"If this attack proves anything, it is that terrorism has no religion," he said.
"It makes me even more distressed to realise the person who committed this act was an Australian.
"Despite the anti-Muslim sentiments being spread on social media, we will continue to stand as proud Australians."
Dr Rehman said he had been overwhelmed by the support shown by people from all works of life.
"A special thanks to the Wagga Police for making sure our places of worship are safe," he said.
Dr Rehman said an event such as the tragedy in Christchurch shows the dangers of social media.
"We need to work together to remove extreme hate, whether right-wing or ISIS, from social media," he said.
Azizeh Abbasi said learning about the horrific deaths of her fellow Muslims in New Zealand was heartbreaking.
"The important thing is to have peace and in my opinion, it doesn't matter what religion you are," she said.
"Islamophobia was the centre of the attack but in reality, we think everyone should be treated the same.
"It is so beautiful to see so many people who are gathering in support."
Ms Abbasi has been living in Wagga for 18 months after fleeing from Afghanistan to Iran and reminds the community, this is not the first time Muslims have been targeted.
"In my country, there is a war every day and many Muslim people are being killed by the Taliban and ISIS," she said.
Mariam Rehman, a Wagga Muslim, said she was fearful and had not slept properly since news of the massacre emerged.
"When I saw the turnout, my emotions changed because support is not only holding a candle, it means they're saying 'we are your fellow Australians'," she said.
"It hits so close to home when you find out the attacker was Australian and it's your neighbours.
"Before this, I would ignore racism but it is our role to stand up against violence and it shouldn't take more than 40 lives for us to realise what discrimination is."
Mostafa Eslampanah recently escaped Afghanistan and has been living in Wagga for two months.
"Hearing about what happened, it is upsetting and I hope to never see something like this happen again," he said.
"One of the best things about Wagga is seeing the people come together now."
Saira Ali said it was heartbreaking to learn of the lives lost, but the candlelight vigil provided emotional support.
"It is a dark time, but it is good to see so many people here," she said.
"To my fellow Muslims, we are with you and we pray for you and for all of humanity, not only Muslims, to be protected."
Kylie Anderson attended the vigil along with her children in a show of support for their friends.
"We have Muslim friends in our community and we are to support them and New Zealand and to show respect," she said.
"It is so important to show that we are all one community.
"As the kids wrote on their signs, everyone one is equal and we need more love instead of hate."
Riverina Police District Inspector Adrian Telfer said they attended the vigil and were working closely with the Muslim community to ensure they felt safe.
Belinda Crain, CEO of the Multicultural Community, said it was beautiful to see so many people attend the candlelight vigil.
Multicultural gathering celebrates International Women's Day
Women from around the world have come together in Wagga to celebrate International Women's Day.
There were women from the Yazhidi community, from Burundi, Zimbabwe, South Sudan, Afghanistan and Nepal along with many others who call this city home at an event organised by the Wagga Women's Health Centre and the Wagga Multi-Cultural Council.
The day-long event included art, craft, music, interactive activities, lucky door prizes, children's activities and a massive, community-wide shared lunch of multi-cultural cuisine, including a sausage sizzle.
"The theme for International Women’s Day 2019 is Balance for Better," Julie Mecham from the Wagga Women's Health Centre.
"This theme is a call to action to strive for gender balance throughout the world, to support women's advancement and to openly celebrate our achievements, not only on International Women’s Day, but all throughout the year."
For Lucy Zatang, who is originally from Myanmar, International Women's Day is a chance to reflect.
Ms Zatang spent seven years in Malaysia as a refugee - and her husband nearer 10 years - before being able to resettle in Australia.
The couple, who have four young children, came immediately to Wagga after arriving in Australia.
Ms Zatang said one of the joys for her was the range of activities open to her two sons and two daughters here.
"We are free and happy and healthy. Wagga is clean and quiet. There are beautiful people here, who smile at young on the street," she said.
"There are lots of different activities and places to go."
International Women's Day has been celebrated for more than a century.
The first gathering in central Europe in 1911 was supported by more than a million people.
International Womens Day 2019 Celebration
Wagga's Yazidi community protest horrific execution of 50 women
Wagga's Yazidi community are standing up and readying for a peaceful protest to cry out against the horrific execution of 50 women in Syria. Rashed Shani Baqi said soldiers discovered the bodies last week when they gained access to Baghuz, where ISIS is desperately clinging to their territory. "Women are captured as slaves and raped," he said. "Soldiers surrounded ISIS in a small area and they were told if any ISIS were killed then the Yazidi slaves would be murdered. "Last week, 50 women were found executed with their heads cut off." Haji Gundor said horrific events continue to happen to the Yazidi community and the young children left in Iraq and Syria are being brought up as child soldiers for ISIS with no knowledge of their culture. "It is really hard to see this," he said."Not only do we feel the pain of who losing who has already been killed, but now it is even more painful."One boy, interviewed by an overseas journalist, remembers nothing after his parents were killed and he was trained to kill." Mr Shani Baqi and Mr Gundor both said they couldn't understand why no one was reaching out to help the Yazidi."We want to the government to try and save the women and children who are still in captivity," Mr Shani Baqi said.
"After five years of war, everyone knows the Yazidi are in captivity and are being sold, used and killed." This is not the first time the Yazidi community have been targeted by ISIS. Mr Gundor said ISIS attacked Shingal, Iraq murdering more than 5000 people on August 3, 2014, and this is only one of 74 genocides. "We are a peaceful people and our women, men and children are being killed," he said. "If something is not done, this religion is going to end." Mr Shani Baqi and Mr Gundor are pleading for international aid for those left behind. "If the world does not move, then I think we will lose all of them," Mr Shani Baqi said. "There are thousands of stories of suffering, but we are choosing to focus on this one for now."CEO of the Multicultural Council, Belinda Crain, said the council was supporting the Yazidi community and encouraged Wagga's residents to come down and show their support.
Yazidis in Australia: waiting for justice
Smith Family's Learning for Life program and Multicultural Council partnership helps Wagga children
JANUARY 31 2019 - 5:00PM - Annie Lewis, Daily Advertiser
🏈 AUSSIE RULES A HIT WITH REFUGEE KIDS 🏈
"I think AFL is the best sport I've ever had," says 11-year-old Rozaliya Hasan. She's one of the students in an Aussie Rules Football program in the Riverina that's been helping refugee children feel more included in the community. 🏃🏃♀️
Read more: https://ab.co/2VB3cUI
AFL Riverina @multiculturalcouncilwaggawagga
IEAA explore the link
Refugee kids shine in Wagga Wagga schools
ABC Riverina Common Thread
2018 NSW International Student of the Year Awards - Higher Education Winner
SBS: Wagga Wagga home to Australia's first Yazidi burial site
SBS Kurdish radio
SBS kurdish Pêkanîna yekem goristana Êzîdî
Land allocated for Yazidi Community in Wagga Wagga Monumental Cemetery
Prime TV moving Ceremony 4th anniversary of Yazidi Genocide
Win News- Wagga Goal Umpire Basil Shani Baqi- AFL Umpire Diversity Talent Camp
Prime 7 News:20/06/18-World Refugee Day
Wagga's Multicultural Council sets up the Refugee Youth Mentoring Program
The Daily Advertiser: 21/5/18 - Read article
Refugees wanted: NSW country town Walla Walla looks overseas to fill employment gaps
ABC News: 21/5/18 - Read article
Wagga’s Burmese residents plea for international intervention in Kachin
The Daily Advertiser: 9/5/18 - Read article
Wagga's Yazidi community celebrates the New Year
The Daily Advertiser: 18/4/18 - Read article
Multicultural Council’s Common Threads provides an opportunities for refugees to learn new skills
The Daily Advertiser: 28/3/18 - Read article
Woman 2 Woman conference set to help Wagga celebrate International Women's Day
The Daily Advertiser: 2/3/18 - Read article
yazidi refugee teacher
Learning to Swim - ABC Local News
New Year Celebration: April 2017
Yazidi refugees rejoice in first New Year in Australia
The Australian: 19/4/17 - View article
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton visits Wagga for Yazidi new year with refugees
The Daily Advertiser: 20/04/17 - View article
Wagga's Yazidi community marks New Year
SBS Radio: 19/04/17 - Listen to audio
Yazidi New Year: Immigration Minister Peter Dutton tells refugees of work to increase Syrian intake
ABC Online: 20/04/17 - Read article
Australia's Yazidi community to celebrate new year in Wagga
Riverina Leader: 17/04/17 – Read article
Yazidi Celebration - Hundreds of Yazidi refugees gathered in Wagga today to celebrate their new year.
Facebook – WIN news - Watch video
Immigration minister visits Wagga
Triple M Riverina - Read article
Ashmont child will soon be banished from the country with her Kenyan mum
The Daily Advertiser: 1/4/17 - Read article
Angela Aseka to be deported from Australia after 14 years
The Daily Advertiser: 5/4/17 - Read article
Peter Dutton back deportation of Australian-born child
The Border Mail: 6/4/17 - Read article
Kenyan mother thankful for support in immigration row
The Daily Advertiser: 9/4/17 - Read article
Fresh calls for Immigration Minister Peter Dutton to intervene in 'outrageous' deportation
The Daily Advertiser: 18/4/17 - Read article