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Refugees making a difference: "This country and its people helped to make me stronger"

Elaheh left Iran with a promise to make a stand for those who have no voice. Now in Australia, she's studying for a PhD in public health to help improve the quality of people's lives. She also volunteers for Red Cross.

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"I left Iran when I was 27. It had to be the single most difficult decision in my life: to leave my mother, father and other loved ones behind.

"But one thing that made me keep going was a promise I made. Before I left my country I went to my brother's grave and promised him that I'd do my best to be strong and to make a stand for those who have no voice.

"Coming to Australia as a single woman was a very hard journey but I remember how it felt to arrive in this new country and have my first experience of freedom. That morning and that feeling will stay with me for the rest of my life.

"Once my English improved, I enrolled in university and did a master's degree in public health so I would be able to help those who are suffering and help them improve their quality of life-I met a lot of people less fortunate than me throughout my journey to Australia.

"I was so happy when I graduated: it was a highlight of my life. My hopes and dreams for the future are to continue my studies and I'm now doing a PhD in public health.

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"I also feel very honoured to volunteer with Red Cross' In Search of Safety program. It gives me the opportunity to familiarise school children with the challenges faced by people seeking asylum in Australia. I think it's very important that people realise that those seeking asylum have no other choice.

"Thinking back, before everything in my life was turned upside down, I used to watch the news with my father. It showed refugee boats making their way towards Greece. I was unaware that one day I would take the same journey.

"I had a lot of difficulties when I came to Australia, but this country and its people helped to make me stronger. I love Australia. It's a great country."

Make a difference: 5 ways you can help refugees in your community

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Australia is one of the most culturally diverse nations in the world and there are many things you can do to make your community an even more welcoming, more supportive and more inclusive place to live.

You could offer someone practical help to settle in, show someone how to access the local services, help them to learn or practice English, or help to establish friendships and networks.

Here's five easy things you can do to help refugees and asylum seekers where you live.

Refugee stories: making a difference

[****Image of Ali from Brisbane****] 
Ali from Brisbane: "I just wanted to give something back to Australian society"
[****Image of Sarmed from Shepparton****]  
Sarmed from Shepparton: "It's the least I could do"
[****Image of Tara from Adelaide****] 
Tara from Adelaide: "It's about giving people hope"
[****Image of Simon from Canberra****]  
Simon from Canberra: "Cooking for the community is my passion"

How Red Cross makes a difference

Red Cross' Migration Support Programs assist refugees, asylum seekers, people in detention centres, people who may have been trafficked or forced into marriage, people who've been separated from their loved ones and other people who are vulnerable as a result of migration.

We work with people regardless of how they arrived in Australia and regardless of their immigration status because we believe that everyone deserves the right to dignity and respect.

Find out how Red Cross is making a difference to the lives of refugees, asylum seekers and other migrants.

To help us, you can donate to our work supporting refugees and asylum seekers in crisis.


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