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Resettlement Perspective

Resettlement is a two way process: giving and receiving. I came here as a teenager or what is termed as the 1.5 generation. I didn’t speak English when I arrived here in 1999 having spent my childhood years in refugee camps in Kenya and missing out on many years of schooling as we had to move from camp to camp.

Coming to New Zealand was an opportunity to catch up with missed opportunities in education and other areas of life development. I had only one year of high school in New Zealand but later enrolled into tertiary programme after improving my English.

Key to resettlement:

  • Language and education
  • Employment
  • Local knowledge
  • Access to information
  • Making friends
  • Participating in the wider communities
  • Feeling a sense of belonging (not only in your own community but also in the wider community)
  • Feeling a sense of being at home
  • Experiencing a wide range of employment situations
  • Financial independence (not being dependent on benefit)

The advice I would give to my Somali community is:
Get out there and explore what is out there. Be part of the wider community, make friends with the local community; volunteering is a good way of meeting new people and getting into employment. Your first job may not be what you want or pay well but may help you to get where you want.

It is also important not to dwell on the past or events back home as NZ is our home now and what happens here affects our lives more than elsewhere. Being a forward looking person not a backward looking one is important

My advice for the Somali parents is:
With the right support and self-drive you can change your situation. Your life is in your own hands, take ownership of your future and the future of your family.

Having education and employment yourself as a parent make your children look u p to you as good role model and other people’s perception of the host community  depends on what we do or don’t do.

Question: historically Somalis are known to be entrepreneurial but that has not been a feature in our community in New Zealand whereas Somalis who have resettled in countries such as Kenya, South Africa, and Zambia have established successful businesses and are envied by the locals.

What is the barrier here? Is it unfamiliar business environment that is holding us up or are we too scared of failure?

Article by : Khadra Mohamed