FAZELEH Seyedi never imagined she'd be able to finish school when she was living in Afghanistan.
Now, she is finishing Year 12, has made two films about her culture and life in Bendigo, and has shared her story and culture through public speaking to groups of 100 and more people.
Fazeleh and her family arrived in Australia two years and 10 months ago, having been sought refuge from ethnic persecution in their homeland.
They are members of the Hazara community, an ethnic minority group from Afghanistan.
“When I first came to Australia, all I could say was hello,” Fazeleh said.
She was introduced to Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services through a film-making project run by the organisation.
The project provided her with a platform to share her culture and her experiences in Bendigo.
"The last film I made is about strong Hazara women,” Fazeleh said.
“I made this film because in my country, women are not free. Women need to ask men for everything, it's like they're in jail.
“Here, we are free. We can make our own decisions and do what we want. So there are some very strong women in my community here, and the film is about them."
Congratulations to Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services on winning an Award for Meritorious Service at the #MulticulturalAwards last week! Well done on a great team's dedication to innovative and successful programs that support #diversity in #Bendigo@mcinnes_kate@Abhi_A14https://t.co/aUZU2KeYQF— Multiculture Vic (@multiculturevic) September 17, 2018
LCMS invited Fazeleh to engage in public speaking and to participate in community events such as the Multicultural Feast of Stories.
The not-for-profit community organisation has also helped her gain work experience in office administration.
Fazeleh said getting involved with LCMS ‘changed everything’.
“Before, I had never done anything on my own. I had never spoken in public. Now, I am able to speak out, share with people, let people know about my culture and where I am from,” she said.
“When I look at the audience and see them smiling at me, it is a great feeling.
"I am so happy and grateful to live in Australia and have these opportunities.”
LCMS executive officer Kate McInnes hopes to be telling many more stories like Fazeleh’s in three years’ time.
The organisation has launched its strategic plan for 2018 – 2021, which highlights three key goals.
“One of the priorities is increasing the capacity of multicultural communities to participate and contribute to all aspects of community life,” Ms McInnes said.
“Within our newly arrived communities, there is such an interest and potential to contribute to the broader community, whether it’s through getting that first job, volunteering or sharing culture through music, dance and food.
“We want to ensure there is a helping hand available so that all newly arrived community members can participate and contribute.”
Other goals include encouraging multicultural communities to be understood, valued and included in community life; and ensuring the organisation is a trusted and capable leader and collaborator.
Establishing a Multicultural Hub is part of the plan.
“At the heart of the plan is a vision for vibrant, thriving and multicultural central Victoria,” LCMS chair Abhishek Awasthi said.
“We plan to work with stakeholders and communities to achieve this vision”.
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