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The Common Social – The Journey So Far

We’re officially halfway through The Common Social Campaign and we’ve come so far… but there’s still a long way to go.
We want to thank all the businesses and individuals that have supported us up until this point. You guys have all brought us one step closer to making this dream a reality – a dream where migrant and refugee youth unemployment is a thing of the past.
We thought we’d also let you know how the campaign is going. We have reached almost 30% of our goal of $25,000, with total donations currently sitting at $8,065 – an awesome feat for the foundation.
The Common Social is so much more than a money making venture. The cafe will create independence, sustainability, growth and long-term impacts for the refugee and migrant children and youth we support. It will not only prepare youth for the workforce, the profits The Common Social generates will also ensure all the programs of RMCC will continue to make a life changing impact. With every $50 that we raise, we can generate enough money and resources to support one child in our programs indefinitely. So $8,000 is certainly a good start.

social enterprise

The Common Social will provide hands-on hospitality training, work experience, guidance and employment opportunities to over 50 refugees, asylum seeker and migrant youth each year. It will also facilitate networking and mentoring opportunities with industry professionals.
This initiative is a long-lasting investment that will change people's lives from the ages of five all the way up until adulthood. Unfortunately, we do need significant funding to get this project off the ground.
We’ve gained some excellent press and exposure in our first few weeks. Our lovely CEO, Alice Wojcik, was featured in an article for the Maribyrnong and Hobsons Bay Star Weekly and we heard her on air with the Thinker Girls live on KIIS FM! We also took part in Victoria University's O-Week events, with a stall set up to let local students know about the campaign.
While we are celebrating our wonderful achievements so far, our work is far from over. We encourage you to spread the news with your family and friends and invite them to donate. The Common Social Café still needs more support and you have the power to make that happen!
Share the campaign on your social media by linking to our crowdfunding page and let people know about this life-changing project!
https://chuffed.org/project/thecommonsocial
Thank you again for all that you have done so far. Your kindness will never be forgotten and you will always be a part of the Common Social Café.

A Place for Refugees in the Technologic World

Refugees are faced with so many challenges upon settling in their new home countries – the language, the culture, simply understanding how to get a job. And it’s the extra resources that people can use at their own pace that makes a world of difference. The technological world is so unavoidable in our society, so why not use it to our advantage? Some amazing volunteers have developed Apps and websites to lend refugees a helping hand whenever and wherever they need it and we’re all for it!

Refugees Welcome

Refugees-Welcome.net is an online platform where people wishing to lend their support can offer their private rooms as accommodation for refugees. This not only aims to help refugees with their living situation when they first arrive but also helps their integration into the culture and community of their new country.

The website is currently running in Germany, Austria, Greece, Portugal, Spain, The Netherlands, Sweden Poland and Italy.

InfoAid – Information for refugees on the Balkan Route

InfoAid is an app with up-to-date information for refugees travelling through south-east Europe. The app includes updates about the situation at the borders, weather reports, ferry strikes, transportation information, security advice, information for children travelling alone and so much more.

The app was developed and is now maintained by volunteers from Hungary as a donation to Migration Aid, a volunteer group based in Hungary. Its focus is to provide refugees with necessary and valid information on their travels and is completely separate to the Hungarian government. The reports are updated on a daily basis and are translated into English, Arabic, Farsi, Greek, Pashto, Urdu.
This App works in Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Croatia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Serbia, Slovenia

RefuChat

RefuChat is an app for communication between aid workers or paramedics and Arabic-speaking refugees. It lists some useful phrases and can also be used with the live translation function. This feature translates written and spoken text - a particularly useful resource when language barriers present themselves.

Although this App was created with the intention to bridge the gap between medical staff and refugees, the live translation tool is useful for any refugee struggling with their new language.

Refuchat supports languages including German, English, Arabic, Farsi, French, Spanish, Turkish and Greek. This App is available on Android and iPhone.

Refunite

Refunite.org is an online platform with a mission to reconnect refugee families across the world with their missing loved ones. Refunite is a fully independent not for profit technology organisation. They aim to empower refugees to search for their missing relatives through mobile, computer or free help lines. In order to achieve this, Refunite has collaborated with mobile network partners and the UN.
Refunite.org currently has projects in nine countries - Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan, Somalia, Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Philippines.
Website: https://refunite.org/

Speakfree

Speakfree is an anonymous chatting app that enables refugees to get in contact with other refugees or supporters. The challenge of not knowing anybody in your new home makes it difficult to integrate into society. With this chat, refugees can talk to people in full confidence to find the answers to their questions.
The App is available in eight languages - English, German, French, Arabic, Russian, Urdu, Dari and Tigrinya.

It is also available on iPhone and Android.

It’s so incredible that amazing people put their skills to use to help out those in need. Technological aid means that refugees can use these services in their own time and at their own pace, not in a 9-5 environment where they need to make appointments or schedule in classes.

Hopefully, in the future, we’ll see more amazing people developing ideas to make the transition for refugees all that bit easier and we’d love to see more make their way to Australia.

A Chat with David Nyuol Vincent – Challenges, Education and Opportunity

David Nyuol Vincent grew up in South Sudan but was forced to flee his village when he was just a boy. For the 17 years that followed, he lived in refugee camps, was separated from his family and trained as a boy soldier.

In 2004, he was granted refugee status and moved to Australia, where he now holds citizenship. David has immersed himself in the wider Australian community with his work extending to the creation of a soccer team for Sudanese-Australians, working with the Brotherhood of Saint Lawrence and organising the first Australian-Sudanese Youth Conference.

But David certainly had his challenges when he first arrived in the country. He said the greatest of these was overcoming the language barrier. “Not knowing English meant that I couldn’t even ask questions.” Lacking fundamental communication has devastating effects for resettled refugees including a lack of confidence.

Despite this, David claims one of his greatest accomplishments was “finding the courage to go out on the street” and beginning to involve himself in the community more. The more he involved himself in the Australian life, there more he came to realise just how amazing this country is. “Freedom of speech is an amazing thing… nowhere else in the world can you have the freedom you can here.”

In so many countries, freedom of speech is non-existent so David even appreciates that people like Pauline Hanson have a voice in our society. “It shows us just how great Australia is. She is only one view.”

Instead, David focuses more on the media and they’re role in shaping the views of the nation. “I don’t want people to dwell [on her point of view]. The media run around and give her a lot of noise and there’s too much attention on her.” His suggestion in combatting prejudice is to “have a meal with a refugee.” From this, it becomes apparent that so many asylum seekers and refugees have come to Australia for a better life.

Just like us, David has recognised that education is part of starting this better life. He explains, “without education my life would be nowhere.” He goes on to describe that education for many people means the “beginning of having a good life.” Education carries knowledge, and refugees, in particular, can understand more about the situations that they’ve come from with a broader understanding of the world.

Just as Australia has so much to offer to refugees, they too offer so much to the Australian community. As David suggests, refugees contribute to the multicultural society that Australian is so proud of. “There are so many contributions from refugees from lots of different cultures… They make the community what it is, they’re law abiding, they pay taxes.”

So while governments are fighting over the treatment and processing of refugees and asylum seekers, what can the everyday Australian do? David points out that there are so many people who care about this issue but “won’t do anything about it.” His suggestion is simple, “the wider Australia should get out there, meet a refugee, have a cup of coffee with them. The more [you] understand their story, where they come from and their ambitions, the more attitudes will change.”

Image sourced from The Sydney Morning Herald.

olympics refugee

The Olympics – A Win for the World’s Refugees

This Olympic games we have two teams to cheer for – the Australians and the Refugees.
Australia has got off to a roaring start in this year’s Rio Olympics. But while it’s easy to get caught up in the thrill and competitiveness of the games, it’s also an excellent opportunity to reflect on the very question – What’s the point? The Olympics is a unique event when countries can put aside their differences and we unite to celebrate the achievements of extraordinary individuals.

The year 2016 marks the first time in which the stateless are offered the chance to compete amongst the best of the best. Earlier this year the International Olympic Committee declared that they would choose a group of five to ten refugees to compete under the Olympic flag. A fund of US$2 million was created by the International Olympic Committee to cover training for the elected athletes.

Of the estimated 65 million people currently displaced in the world, the Committee elected the ten following athletes for the Refugee Team.

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Rami Anis – the swimmer from Syria
Rami is 25 years old and comes from Aleppo in Syria, where he started swimming from the age of 14. As the war in Syria intensified, his family was forced to flee to Istanbul. He continued his training but was unable to compete at a national level due to not being a Turkish national. He later moved to Greece before finally seeking asylum in Belgium. He hopes that in 2020 he can return to the Olympics and represent Syria, his home country.

Yiech Pur Biel - the runner from South Sudan
Yiech fled Sudan by himself during the civil war and settled in a Kenyan refugee camp. He only began running a year ago when he started playing football with other refugees in the camp.

“Even if I will not get gold or silver but I will show the world that being a refugee, you can do something.”
Yolande Bukasa Mabika - the judoka from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Yolande remembers little about being separated from her parents and escaping the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She was transported to the capital of Kinshaha and was placed in a centre for displaced children. It was here that she was introduced to judo and fell in love with the sport.

“I got separated from my family and used to cry a lot. I started with judo to have a better life.”
James Nyang Chiengjiek - the 800m runner from South Sudan
James fled southern Sudan when he was just 13 to avoid rebel kidnappings. He fled to Kenya where he settled in a refugee camp, attended school and began running.

“My dream is to get good results at the Olympics and also to help people. Because I have been supported by someone, I also want to support someone.”

Yusra Mardini - the swimmer from Syria
Yusra was training to be a swimmer when war tore her home city apart. At 18 years old, she was forced to flee Syria with her sister. They traveled through Lebanon and Turkey before trying to reach Greece. The undersized boat failed on the journey and both Yusra and her sister were forced to swim for 3 hours to safety. She has since resettled in Berlin. Amazingly, Yusra won her swimming heat on Saturday – an enormous feat for any athlete.

Rose Nathike Lokonyen - the runner from South Sudan
Rose left South Sudan when she was ten years old and has lived in the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya ever since. She began running when she was at school where she would regularly run ten kilometre distances barefoot.

“My dream, my first priority, is to help my parents and my siblings and then after that to help my fellow refugees.”

Yonas Kinde – the marathon runner from Ethiopia
At 36-years-old, Yonas is the eldest member of the refugee team. He fled Ethiopia and currently lives under special protection in Luxembourg. Yonas is both a taxi driver and a marathon runner having won numerous titles in Luxembourg, France and Germany.

“I left my country because of political problems… There are many difficulties, morally, economically and it’s very difficult to be an athlete.”

Anjelina Nadai Lohalith – the runner from South Sudan
Anjelina fled South Sudan when she was six-years-old and has not seen her parents since. When she was 21, Anjelina settled in a Kenyan refugee camp. Finding and helping her family is her main motivation coming into the Olympics.
Popole Misenga - the judoka from the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Popole fled the Democratic Republic of the Congo at nine years of age. His mother was killed in the fighting and he was separated from his family. Eight days after fleeing, he was rescued and taken to a centre for displaced children in the capital city. He later fled and gained refugee status in Brazil.

“I want to be part of the Refugee Olympic Athletes team to keep dreaming, to give hope to all refugees and take sadness out of them. I want to show that refugees can do important things.”
Paulo Amotun Lokoro - the 1500m runner from South Sudan
Paulo was a cattle herder on his family’s farm when he fled his village in South Sudan. When he was reunited with his mother in a Kenyan refugee camp he took up running as a way to keep himself occupied.

“I know I am racing on behalf of refugees. I was one of those refugees there in the camp and I have reached somewhere special.”

These ten extraordinary athletes are the true definition of inspiration. Defying all odds and overcoming such difficult circumstances speaks so loudly of the power in human ambition. The inclusion of the Refugee Team in this year’s Olympics Games represents a step closer to equal opportunity for people torn away from their homes. But there’s still a long way to go. Hopefully, by the 2020 games there’ll be no need for a refugee team as each family will have a place to call home.