Lending many helping hands to refugees

May 15th, 2021Lending many helping hands to refugees

GREGORY Clark joined the Macedon Ranges Rural Australians for Refugees three years ago. He heard about three Malaysian refugees living in Melton sleeping on blankets on the floor with only three plastic chairs, three cups, bowls, spoons, and an esky for a fridge.

But by the time MRRAR had finished unloading two deliveries of donated furniture, the trio had a home, not just a house.
Mr Clark, treasurer of the organisation, said a home made a big difference to people’s lives.
“I hate to see the cruelty exhibited upon refugees, it is just wicked,” he said.
Mr Clark, who has lived in Woodend for 37 years, said the locals knew about MRRAR and would often call or email offering the likes of a fridge or furniture they didn’t need any more.
The organisation is very short on storage space, having lost the use of the garage at the Uniting Church.
As a result, MRRAR collects all the donated goods on a particular day from the local area and delivers them to the West Welcome Wagon, a volunteer-run, not-for-profit, registered charity supporting asylum seekers in Melbourne’s west.
Mr Clark said while they gratefully accepted donations, the current need was for electrical goods including refrigerators, freezers, washing machines and televisions along with complete sets of crockery.
“Stock of donated household furniture and bed linen has now reached capacity at West Welcome Wagon, but they are in dire need of electrical goods,” he said.

Chris Scerri, West Welcome Wagon’s chairman, said they are always pleased to receive donations from MRRAR.
“Greg and the team load up their trailer and bring it to us, which is fantastic,” Mr Scerri said.
“We test and tag all the electric goods they bring to make sure they are safe, and we turn around the donations to our clients very quickly.”
Refugee Week, an initiative of the Refugee Council of Australia, is the country’s peak annual event to raise public awareness about refugees and celebrate their positive contributions to society.
This year Refugee Week runs from Sunday, June 20 to Saturday, June 26.
Mr Clark said the group was organising a number of events during Refugee Week.
“We are planning a film night to be held probably on Friday, June 25 hopefully in Richardson Hall and the Anglian Church here in Woodend,” he said.
“There is also a food collection program scheduled, so we will confirm dates and venues closer to the week.”
MRRAR has a contact list of 200 members with a core of 15 regular volunteers.

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Geoff Hilderbrandt, left, and Gregory Clark, right, load a trailer for delivery to West Welcome Wagon

Words: Carol Saffer | Image: Contributed

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