Taste of Diversity

Anyier Yuol was born a refugee camp in Kenya and came to Australia at the age of 10.

She studied at Western Sydney University but also started modelling and participating in beauty pageants in Australia and internationally.

She founded the Miss Sahara, a National beauty pageant to celebrate the diversity of African women in Australia.

Anyier’s tale was one of many told at the Taste of Diversity dinner organised by Community Migrant Resource Centre.

CEO Melissa Monteiro said the aim of the night was to celebrate the input of new Australians into the community.

Gina Barjeel originally from Jordan arrived to live in Australia 18 months ago following her marriage. She helped establish the The Women’s Fashion Project and now runs a successful fashion business and employs former refugees.

It began with a handful of women who wanted to enhance their skills or build on already existing knowledge of sketching, sewing, cutting and pattern making – skills that make them employable.

Now the project is about to run in its third term, with around 50 women (aged in their 20s through to their 70s) keen to join in.

“We keep upskilling them so they can be in a level they can work in sewing and i’m supporting their employment with other organisations,” Mrs Barjeel said.

“Socialising for them is very important because it’s a new culture and they’re learning still, the language. Not all of them have the opportunity to leave the house.”

Mrs Barjeel has begun employing some of the women to help create garments for her bespoke label, something which has helped earn her accreditation with Ethical Clothing Australia.

She called her enterprise “slow fashion” because each piece was made to order to minimise waste. She also uses sustainable, high quality fabrics (like silk and silk-blends) that would “stay with the customer for many years”.

Afghan woman Tahira Jahanbeen, an accountant, said: “We need to change people views about refugees. I am an Afghan woman who runs a business and pays taxes.“

“I left Afghanistan when the Taliban attacked because I was working with the UN. I am very lucky to be alive.”

She came to Australia after living for 5 years in a Pakistan refugee camp.

“I found this is a country of opportunity and a land where we can be what we want to be.”

To find out more about the services offered by The Community Migrant Resource Centre visit cmrc.com.au