John Sandy shares a message of acceptance with students of Holy Family, Merewether for Harmony Week

Development and Relief Agency (DARA) Project Liaison Officer, John Sandy, visited the students of Holy Family Primary School, Merewether to share his story in time for Harmony Week 2019.

2019 marks the 20th anniversary of Harmony Day, which has this year been extended into Harmony Week to recognise the various activities taking place between 17-23 March.

Harmony Week celebrates Australian multiculturalism and the successful integration of migrants into our society, so John used his visit to Holy Family as an opportunity to share his own experience as a refugee.

Year 6 student, Henry, explained what he gained from John’s presentation: “[Refugees] aren’t just people who want to go to a different country, they’re people who had to flee,” he said. “We should welcome them and not treat them as outsiders. Treat them as you would treat anyone else.”

Annabelle, also in Year 6, said, “John’s story taught me that, even though life may be hard, you need to keep on trying and do everything you can to make your life better.”

John Sandy also shared how he overcame adversity to eventually work with DARA.

“One of the ways people can support Harmony Day is to support DARA,” John explained.

“DARA changed my life forever. Without this amazingly welcoming place, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. Without this place, I would be scared to be different. I wouldn’t have had the confidence to move on with my life, to make new friends and to pursue my dreams.”

DARA is a registered charity that supports new migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, and other vulnerable individuals in the Hunter community.

You can support the work of DARA by donating or volunteering today. Visit DARA’s website for more information.

For more information on Harmony Week, including events taking place throughout the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, you can visit their website.

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Alexander Foster

Alexander Foster is the Digital Communications Officer in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle