The Best United Football Club players are the winners of the World Refugee Day Soccer Tournament for 2014.
Natal talked to Patrick Ryem and Emmanuel Martin from the Best United FC.
Best United Football Club is made up of players from South Sudan, Liberia and Burundi including other super stars from South America.
Best United FC was initially established in 2007 and that now it accommodates soccer players from diverse cultural backgrounds.
Patrick Oryem talks about how hard it was to qualify and says Best United players always get into the competition to win the trophy.
Emmanuel Martin talks about the spreading of the south Sudanese people as a result of the civil war and proper sense of understanding to create better approaches of integration with the mainstream society in Australia.
He also talks about how hard it is to break through from community football to playing in the mainstreams at the A-League level.
The Restoring Hope art exhibition by nonforprofit arts organisation Art from the Margins was launched at the Vera Wade art gallery in Brisbane. This exhibition featured artists refugee from Burma. Since the military took control of the government, Burma has been a site of political unrest, ethnic genocide and civil war.
Htoo Htoo Han
Htoo Htoo Han was a teenager when the military took over and joined his fellow students and mother to protest as part of the Burmese Democracy Movement. The military oppressed this protests harshly. Many students were killed or sent to prison.
Htoo Htoo escaped across the Burmese-Thai border and came to Australia as a refugee. Today, he still advocates for human rights in Burma through film and art.
Htoo Htoo talks to us about many things that have brought him here today: the harrowing experience of his imprisonment in Burma and the suffering his family endured; pretending he was a spy so the Australian government would send him to the International Claims Court, so he could use the media attention to highlight the plight of the Burmese people; his fight for global social justice not just in Burma, but in the Middle East, Tibet and here in Australia; and of course, his artwork consisting of intricate coloured dots, rich in symbolism and his fight for justice.
Restoring Hope featured artist Mu La Htaw’s realistic pencil drawings of smiling little children and babies, which was a huge hit with some of the elderly ladies visiting the exhibition.
Mu is of Karen nationality. The Karen people are an ethnic group in Burma who have endured civil war and imprisonment over culture and land.
Mu’s family fled the armed conflict between the Karen Independence Army and the Burmese Military when he was only 2 year olds. All of Mu’s schooling and education came from the refugee camps he grew up in. Along the way, Mu became fascinated by art and took art classes from teachers at the camps.
Mu came to Australia as a refugee when he was a young man and lived with a Karen family in Brisbane. His parents still live in the refugee camps and he tries to visit them every year.
Mu tells us about growing up in a refugee camp, the Karen community in Australia and finding his love for art.
The Luminous Welcome Lantern parade lit up Brisbane city on Queensland Day. Run by the Multicultural Development Association, community groups and individuals walked through South Bank with lanterns of all shapes, sizes and animals to welcome new Queenslanders.
The parade ended at a concert at the South Bank piazza featuring talent from all over the world.
We caught up with two of the performers.
Brazilian Marka dancer Michael Ballesteros
Michael Ballesteros is part of the Bolivia Marka Dance Group based in Brisbane. The Bolivia Marka group danced through the parade and performed again at the conert. Michael talks to us about performing the dances of Indigenous Bolivians as well as Spanish-influenced styles, and the Bolivian community in Australia.
L-R: William Barton, Tenzin Choegyal and Toko Ton Taiko
Tenzin Choegyal’s mastery of his native Tibetan music is critically acclaimed in Australia and internationally. As well as performing for special Tibetan events, Tenzin also collaborates with musicians who play different styles.
At the Luminous Welcome, Tenzin performed with didjeridoo player William Barton and the Toko-Ton Taiko drummers, husband and wife duo Chie and Steve Mason. Three very different musical styles came together to create a unique sound for this special occasion.
I talked to Tenzin, Chie and Steve about how they brought their music together, and what it means to welcome new Queenslanders.
Osman “Kojaja” displayed a series of vivid political cartoons as part of Creative Conversations: Making Sense with Art event. Kojaja is Nigerian and grew up in Sudan, eventually landing a job as a political cartoonist. His cartoons were published in a Sudanese newspaper. But Kojaja’s criticism of the African regime attracted the worst kind of attention of the government. Kojaja left and made his way over to Australia.
As well as exhibiting art that day, Kojaja also played drums, guitar and singing with the performing band, Tari Hujan.
Kojaja sat down with us and talked about being a political cartoonist in a dangerous country, and his creativity spanning from Africa to Australia.
Design-loving Alberto Castillo worked as an architect in Guatamala. During his work and studies, Alberto’s interest in social justice led him to volunteer with community groups advocating for the rights of Indigenous Guatamalans. However, the Guatamalan Government targeted Alberto, believing he was conspiring with anti-government guerrillas.
Alberto (above on the far right during the Creative Conversations artist panel) and his wife left to study in Mexico and later came to Australia. Ten years after his wife’s death, Alberto was inspired to paint again. His work is inspired by the important women in his life.
He tells us about leaving Guatamala and finding his new art community in Brisbane.
Marziya Mohammadi’s family came to Australia as refugees from Afghanistan when she was a young teenager. Although Marziya learned how to speak English at school, she became concerned about her elderly mother who lacked English skills and found everyday tasks challenging.
With the help of her friends, Marziya created The English Tea Project – an informal English language class for immigrant women to learn, make friends and chat over tea.
Marziya herself has been quite vocal about refugee rights and has spoken on television, radio and events around Australia.
She tells us about how she overcame her language difficulties to help others with projects such as the English Tea Project, and how communication is crucial for social wellbeing.