Forty-eight refugees from Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, The People's Republic of Congo, South America and El Salvatore, who have settled in Canberra, were invited to the Far South Coast as guests for a weekend of entertainment and inclusivity.
Over November 9 to 12, on behalf of the Social Justice Advocates of the Sapphire Coast (SJA) and Migrant and Refugee Settlement Service (MARSS), migrants had the opportunity to explore the district and experience country and coastal life outside of Canberra.
Gavin Bell from SJA said there were ten host families looking after the refugees, while the eleventh family with eight people had been provided a unit in Merimbula.
"The idea of it is that they get to have a holiday for a start, but they also get to travel to the beach and a country area, a lot of the time these people have fled their countries," Mr Bell said.
"We asked the host families to bring their guests to Pambula Beach for a swim, we already organised the life saving club members to be there and watch out for them, and then we [had] a barbeque lunch, games, and fun like a standard Australian picnic."
Mr Bell described the previous year's event where a grandmother from Iraq was out in the ocean with her grandchildren for the first time in her life, and the joyful expressions on their faces as they made unforgettable memories on the Far South Coast.
Musician Andy Zarins organised a concert out of 'Beryl,' a custom shipping container which transforms into a portable stage, and featured Latvian Independence Day, John Black and friends, Candelo Songwriters, Matty Gibb and the Quaama Choir.
The music artists performed on Sunday, November 12 for a multicultural event coinciding with Pambula Rotary Markets.
Mr Bell said the event was built to show migrants the inclusivity and supporting qualities of the Far South Coast.
"We [encouraged] people to come out to show there's a diverse group of people in the Bega Valley, it's a little known fact that we did a multicultural festival years ago and we found 50 different nationalities in the Bega Valley," Mr Bell said.
"The main factor of course is showing these migrants that there is another world outside of Canberra, and that they're welcome, we welcome them with open arms."
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