It was such an honor to be present this morning at the Canberra Refugee Support Scholarships Presentation Ceremony - a pre event for Refugee Week which is launched tomorrow.
The Canberra Refugee Support Scholarships recognises meritorious performance and encourages and supports outstanding refugee students in the pursuit of personal development goals and education.
This morning was an emotional ceremony where refugees and asylum seekers from as young as 5 years old were recognised for the hard work they put into establishing their new lives in Canberra. I can only imagine how difficult this must be. We heard a little bit about each recipient at the ceremony and there weren't too many dry eyes in the audience as we clapped and acknowledged all 33 recipients from various countries of the world including Burma, Thailand, Sudan, Afghanistan, Pakistan to name a few.
Once all the scholarships had been handed out one of the scholarship recipients Mr Felix Machiridza addressed the audience. He spoke of having to leave his home country of Zimbabwe after being subject to torture after speaking out against the government. His words were incredibly moving and with his permission I have reproduced the speech below. It deserves to be circulated widely as it really gives you the human dimension to seeking a safe life in a foreign land. The words that particularly struck me was when he said " today I stand before you, a free man; a beneficiary of the brighter and loving side of the human species"
Speech by Felix Machiridza
The Refugee Scholarship Awards have been given out on World Refugee Day through funds donated by the Canberra community over the past 7 years. This year Canberra Refugee Support distributed approximately $17,000 to 33 recipients. Next year will be even bigger I'm sure.