Illawarra Refugee Challenge held at Warrawong High School on September 4-6

REFUGEE CHALLENGE: Warrawong High School students Seyda Atak and Ashley Mallia taking part in the Illawarra Refugee Challenge. Picture: Robert Peet
REFUGEE CHALLENGE: Warrawong High School students Seyda Atak and Ashley Mallia taking part in the Illawarra Refugee Challenge. Picture: Robert Peet

From being stopped by a masked border guard to seeing the limited water and food supplies, Warrawong High School students got a little glimpse of how tough life is for a refugee.

And while it was only make-believe, the Illawarra Refugee Challenge showed students Seyda Atak and Ashley Mallia the importance of showing empathy to those people who flee their country and leave everything they know behind.

‘’It’s not an easy thing for them to do,’’ Ashley said.

‘’The conditions they have to endure just to have a life we take for granted, are so tough.

‘’It is important for us to be aware that refugees go through a lot to be able to provide a better life for their families.’’

The conditions they have to endure just to have a life we take for granted, are so tough.

Ashley Mallia

Ashley and Seyda were among 24 year 10 HSIE students who conducted tours for their fellow year 9 and 10 peers, as well as students from neighbouring schools, as part of the third Illawarra Refugee Challenge.

The event organised by Wollongong City Council and Multicultural Communities Council of Illawarra, ran at Warrawong High School from September 4-6.

Salma Alhindi, the EAL/D teacher at Warrawong HS, said the challenge consisted of six semi-simulated stations in which the students conducted discussions, scenarios and role playing.

‘’The students looked at the reality of water and food supplies, sanitation and education in a refugee camp,’’ she said. ‘’It was all about trying to raise awareness and empathy among mainstream high school students about the refugee journey.’’

Wollongong City Council’s acting community and cultural development manager Armando Reviglio said the challenge was an innovative way for students and community members to gain an insight into refugee experiences and journeys.

‘’It shows the daily reality of life in a refugee camp and in a city,’’ she said.

MCCI general manager Chris Lacey said MCCI was proud to partner with Council and local students on the Refugee Challenge.

‘’Our community has a long history of supporting refugees settle in the Illawarra and make a new life in Australia,’’ he said.

‘’This Refugee Challenge highlights the often difficult journey of refugees and we congratulate all the young people involved to help raise community awareness of refugees’ experiences and to celebrate cultural diversity and respect.’’