WHILE debate rages about “illegal” refugees trying to slip through the back door on smugglers’ boats a Warrnambool group has been helping “legal” refugees by selling cakes and produce.
The Lutheran church congregation has raised $15,000 to assist about 200 African immigrants who have been resettled in Shepparton after fleeing their homeland.
They’ve come from Sudan, Barundi, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo and spent months in Kenyan refugee camps awaiting resettlement.
“They are legal refugees who have come through the Australian humanitarian migration program,” said Christine Sawyer, an aid fund-raiser with the Warrnambool Lutheran congregation.
“Resettlement started with a small number going to Shepparton about four years ago and has expanded.
“The Lutheran church there supports counselling, English classes and integration into the community.
“A bigger hall and kitchen is needed so they can hold their community activities because at the moment many have to gather under the trees.
“We decided to help when some refugees visited Warrnambool three years ago.”
Saturday was the fourth successive weekend where Warrnambool and district residents sold cakes, slices, biscuits, quiches, jams, preserves, plants and even sheep manure to raise funds.
“We’ve raised $5000 each year and aim to do it again in 2014 to meet our target of $20,000,” Mrs Sawyer said.
“We are very appreciative of support from the local community.”