It’s 2023! While we know that some new year’s resolutions aren’t useful at all (diet culture, we’re looking at you), January can be a valuable time to take stock of what you want to do and who you want to be in the next 12 months. The start of a new year is a useful time to reflect and set some authentic goals. Here at Welcome Merchant, we value kindness, paying it forward and empowering yourself with knowledge sourced from diverse voices.
As such, we’ve compiled this (non-exhaustive) list of actions you can take this year to empower yourself with knowledge and do good in the world around you.
First Hike Project
First Hike Project helps refugees and migrants who are new to Australia to discover nature in a safe group environment. For participants, it’s an all-expenses-paid experience! First Hike Project are culturally sensitive in the food they provide, and they ensure time is provided during the hike for cultural and religious practices. Day hikes and overnight hikes are both on offer. This initiative currently operates in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and Brisbane. You can find out more and volunteer or donate by clicking here.
English Tutoring with Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC)
Unfortunately, people seeking asylum are not eligible for the free English language teaching that is funded by the federal government. That’s where this program comes in – the ASRC provides a Home English Teaching program for refugees and asylum seekers. This is a vital service that allows people who otherwise may not have the means or confidence to travel to classes to learn English. If you are able to travel and teach English (tutoring is offered from beginners through to advanced levels), find out more by clicking here (please note that applications to volunteer open on the first of February).
Read and Listen
No Friend But The Mountains – Behrouz Boochani
You may already be familiar with Behrouz Boochani’s 2018 work No Friend but the Mountains, however this autobiographical account sadly remains as relevant as ever. This work is the result of Boochani, a Kurdish journalist, being illegally detained for years on Manus Island. Painstakingly written on a mobile phone and then translated from Farsi, this memoir has won many esteemed literary awards including the Victorian Prize for Literature and the Victorian Premier’s Prize for Nonfiction. Boochani’s next work, Freedom, Only Freedom will be available in late March this year, and discusses his experiences as a refugee, as well as the inhumane structures of Australia’s detention centres. If you’re in Adelaide, you can register for an in-conversation event with Boochani in February (options for in-person and live-stream) here.
There’s No Place Like Home
This podcast by Future Women takes an in-depth approach to pulling back the curtain on domestic and family violence in Australia. The series features ten episodes, told in victim-survivor’s own words. One such guest on the podcast is Lebanese-Australian artist and author Amani Haydar, who wrote The Mother Wound, an account of the unimaginable experience of losing her mother to domestic violence perpetuated by her father. There’s No Place Like Home is narrated by Indian-born Australian activist Tarang Chalwa, who became a vocal activist against men’s violence against women following the tragic murder of his sister Nikita in 2015. Research highlights that refugee and migrant-background women face additional risk in relation to domestic violence – research from Monash University states that a one in three migrant/refugee women have experienced some form of domestic violence. While this podcast is not an easy listen, it is incredibly important to understand the reality of this issue in Australia. You can listen to this award-winning podcast wherever you get your podcasts.
Follow & Support
Blair Imani is an author, activist and content creator who lives and breathes intersectionality. Identifying as a Black, Muslim, and bisexual woman, Blair’s Instagram series Smarter in Seconds provides her followers with bite-sized videos that unpack issues such as fatphobia, toxic masculinity, cultural appropriation, stereotypes and more in an informative and non-judgemental way. Imani recently wrote a book titled Read This To Get Smarter, which is based on Smarter in Seconds and is an approachable guide to being a socially conscious person. You can continue your learning and advocacy journey by following Imani on Instagram, and find out more about her and her work on her website.
Sweatshop is a literacy movement based in Western Sydney founded by author Dr Michael Mohammed Ahmad. The aim of the movement is to empower people of diverse backgrounds and cultures through reading, writing and critical thinking. They strive to “create new, complex and alternative forms of artistic representation which are produced by the culturally marginalised members of contemporary Australian society”. Programs include a Writer’s Group, Women Collective, Schools Initiative and Publication productions. Have a browse through Sweatshop’s publications here, keep up to date with Sweatshop via their website and their Instagram.
Treehouse Theatre is a non-profit organisation based in Sydney. The theatre performs the stories of young refugees – their stories are written up into scripts, workshopped and ultimately performed in a professional theatre setting. The refugee cast report benefits such as improved confidence, better sleep and concentration, and, importantly, a reduction in trauma-based flashbacks and nightmares. The program’s dual aims are to facilitate trauma recovery and healing for the young refugee cast, and to educate the Australian public, particularly high school-aged students, about the realities of the refugee experience. You can support Treehouse Theatre in many ways – donate here, book tickets here and get in touch to volunteer here.
Of course, we would love for you to continue your support for Welcome Merchant in 2023, too. If you would like to volunteer with us or donate, get in touch here.
Featured image via First Hike Project