Sydneysiders take a step with refugees around the harbour
Rain didn’t stop hundreds of Sydneysiders from walking together with their neighbours from refugee backgrounds to celebrate World Refugee Day this week.
The harbourside event aimed to build stronger bonds through locals walking and talking with those who have more recently found a new home and safety in Australia.
For Dor Akech Achiek, the walk was a reminder of a much longer and more difficult journey already taken.
As a six-year-old boy, Mr. Dor walked with his mother and siblings from South Sudan through Uganda and on to Kenya for almost three months.
“My four-year-old sister had no choice but to trek like the rest of us, we were all taking turns carrying her – ‘African style’ – on our shoulders so that she wouldn’t completely tire out,” Mr. Dor remembers.
After being received by the UN Refugee Agency, they were resettled in Australia, where Mr. Dor is now a Settlement Services Manager with Settlement Services International.
The event was organised by local startup OneStep Walks, in partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, with support from Settlement Services International and Australia for UNHCR.
The walk contributed an estimated million steps to UNHCR’s Step With Refugees campaign, a worldwide movement building understanding of people forced to flee their homes, and solidarity with those displaced.
Following the harbour walk, lunch was offered by refugee family catering businesses from Syria, Sierra Leone, Sudan and Cambodia.
Ed Yousef, a young medical science graduate has established thriving catering company, Syriana Traditional Cuisine with the support of SSI’s Ignite® small business initiative. Serving falafel, kibbeh and baklawa, Ed also shared his hopes for an inclusive and welcoming society.
“Food brings people together; it unites us,” says Mr Yousef. “It is important for communities to have the opportunity to engage, make contact and thrive so that we can improve our society together.”
OneStep Walks has organized walk and talk events in Sydney since 2017, connecting people as they take steps together in some of the city’s most scenic locations. “It’s been so encouraging to see Sydneysiders sign up and enjoy our monthly walks together with refugees and come back time and time again,” says Sandra Carvajal, Co-Founder of OneStep Walks. “We’re grateful to the UN Refugee Agency and the City of Sydney for their support in hosting the largest OneStep walk to date.”