Looking forward to World Refugee Day 


Four months may not seem like a long time for most of us, but for Edward and Janine, refugees from Burundi in Africa, it has been the beginning of a new life.

Since arriving in February, the couple, along with their young children, have been assisted to settle into their new country. One of the first steps is learning English as part of the Adult Migrant English Program at Charles Darwin University.

Speaking through an interpreter, the pair agrees that the English language is their single biggest hurdle to integrating into Australia. Once they have a grasp of their new language, they will be able to find employment and understand their new country better.

“Learning English will help us communicate with Australians and get informed about what is happening around us,” Edward said.

After spending twelve years in a refugee camp in Tanzania, they have limited memories of their home country. Edward was just at primary school when he left Burundi.

Whilst they are both clearly very relieved and happy to have finally arrived in Australia, they also remember family and friends left behind.

Edward said: “Australia is a very nice place because all people are equal, there’s no difference between people.”

After seeing many Burundians board planes heading to Australia from Africa, they were surprised on arriving in Darwin to find few other Burundians to talk to.

The Melaleuca Refugee Centre in Darwin helped the family adjust to their new surroundings – including buying food, enrolling in English classes, catching public transport and finding accommodation.

World Refugee Day will be celebrated on Tuesday 20 June 2006.