WORLD REFUGEE DAY 2024: MEET WAGGA WAGGA UNIT MEMBER, KHAIRI JOLO

NSW SES

Meet Wagga Wagga Unit Member, Khairi Jolo

Volunteering can often give you a sense of purpose, a sense of pride or sense of belonging. It can equip you with new skills, lead to new friendships or create a new community for you.

That is certainly the case for Wagga Wagga Unit member, Khairi Jolo. Khairi is a proud member of the Yazidis community from Iraq and relocated to Australia to escape the persecution he and his community faced from the extremist organisation, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

“I left Iraq in 2014 and was a refugee in a Turkish camp until 2020. The camp I lived in was a small Yazidis village, which included about 34 other families,” Khairi recalled.

“I was my community’s contact person with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). I was in constant communication with UNHCR and local authorities in my village’s area to relay the difficulties the community faced and to find solutions to those problems.”

“I received honourable recognition through correspondence from the UNHCR for protecting my community from discrimination and racism.”

It was during that tumultuous journey to Australia that Khairi developed his strong desire to support and assist his future community.

“It was in that refugee camp in Türkiye that I remember seeing the bushfires raging along the East Coast of Australia and I told my friends that if I were there, I would definitely volunteer to help the community.”

Khairi has been volunteering with the local Wagga Wagga unit since 2021 after moving to Australia in February 2020.

“What I love about Wagga Wagga is the community’s warm welcome to refugees. My life was in danger and this country helped me. People in Wagga Wagga have always been supportive and open, so I want to give back to the community.”

“The best part is that no one judges your English language level or mistakes. Additionally, organisations like the Multicultural Council and TAFE are incredibly supportive, playing a crucial role in the success of refugees.”

Volunteering with the NSW SES has provided Khairi the opportunity to connect with his local community and given him a sense of belonging.

“I am motivated by the opportunity to help my community during emergencies and disasters. Our Commander and team leaders are amazingly helpful with members whose first language is not English.”

“Volunteering allows me to give back to the community and this country, which saved my life from genocide, racism, discrimination, and persecution. Through volunteering, I have become more connected with my local community.”

World Refugee Day is an international day designated by the United Nations to honour refugees around the globe. It falls each year on 20 June and celebrates the strength and courage of people who have been forced to flee their home country to escape conflict or persecution.

Khairi recalls the floods that affected the Wagga Wagga area in 2022 as a really challenging time, but ultimately, one that improved his skills and increased his affiliation with the local area.

“It was a really exhaustive time. I worked eight hours and still attended the unit to assist the community. We had numerous tasks to complete, including door knocking and helping to evacuate people.”

Khairi would love to share his traditions and culture with his unit and the local area.

“I would like to share my Yazidi culture by organising cultural exchange events, introducing our customs, food, and music, and participating in community events to foster mutual understanding and appreciation.”

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