“We’re not about raising money, we are about raising awareness and that removes ignorance.”
The words of Thomas Dayoub imbue power to the act of cutting lengths of green ribbon to create pin bows. It’s a menial task that Thomas and members of the St Clare’s High School human rights group chose to undertake to create a visual catalyst for conversation about refugees.
Today is World Refugee Day and the pin bows will dress the uniforms of students. It’s an initiative of the human rights group and in recent weeks its members worked in their Friday lunch break to create their contribution to raising awareness about refugee issues in Australia.
Thomas is proud of the work of the human rights group and passionately believes that “by removing ignorance everything will be a lot better.”
“We are not trying to force views on to people, but instead we work to just enlighten them with facts and figures which will hopefully make them more open-minded.”
The facts and figures are shocking, says Hannah Lewis.
“There are 21.3 million refugees in the world and in two hours 2880 refugees will flee their homes.
”A lot of people don’t understand the courage you need to flee your home. This year’s theme of Refugee Week is ‘With Courage Let Us All Combine’, so it’s a very powerful message as it shows that to be a refugee you do need courage, you do need strength, you do need amazing resilience.
“We hope that our efforts will help to break down the negative stigma that seems to be part of the refugee conversation and will raise awareness that they are people just like you and I who are looking for a safer life.”
Willow Mackay believes “far too many people judge before they actually understand what the issues are with refugees.”
People say, refugees choose to come without documentation, but what they don’t understand is that refugees are often threatened if they don’t give up their documentation.
“They do have it a lot harder than we do in Australia and I wish our community could be more open and accepting of refugees. I believe we should have open arms to everyone.”
Human rights group co-ordinator Phil Chalmers says the students have “developed a commendable social conscience” and believes “it is a sign of maturity to look beyond your own needs.”
“They are wonderful role models and the more they expose their ethics and beliefs to the younger students, I believe we will see greater empathy and understanding of human rights issues in our community.”