Migrant Voices was yet another epic, stimulating event at this year’s WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival.
Chaired by journalist Donna Miles-Mojab, the citizens of Christchurch and others from abroad sat and listened closely to first hand accounts from individuals who have made perilous and nerve shattering journeys away from conflict zones, to what is now their home – New Zealand.
It was a treat to be listening to such compelling narratives while sitting within The Chamber of the newly and beautifully designed The Piano.
Somalian national Dr Hassam Ibrahim, and Afghan national Abbas Nazari spoke of their manifold hardships leaving the places their families knew, to eventually arrive via boats, planes, trucks and on foot, to New Zealand’s shores, to be faced with radically different surroundings and cultural sensibilities.
They spoke of their New Zealand experience with great gratitude but also lamented leaving their homelands for a place where they may not always be understood as people. It’s not every day that you get the privilege of hearing first hand accounts such as these. It’s staggering to think that RIGHT NOW over 3.2 million desperate humans are seeking asylum throughout the earth! Forced to leave homes, friends and familiar environments to make huge transitions abroad.
“Double the Quota” campaigner Murdoch Stephens made the case for New Zealand to lift its refugee quota, and discussed the many positive economic and cultural impacts of resettling refugees in New Zealand. It was a compelling case – given that “NZ’s refugee quota has not grown since 1987”, which is pretty lame in contrast to our Australian cousins who “currently take more than three times as many quota refugees and asylum seekers as NZ per capita”.