Members Statement – Beloved Syria

Mr CARROLL (Niddrie) — Norma Medawar arrived in Australia last year from Syria and has since been granted asylum. She is one of approximately 11 million people who have fled Syria in the past year since the civil war erupted in her beloved homeland. She and her family were unlucky enough to have to witness firsthand the atrocities of war; Norma’s uncle was kidnapped in 2012, and one of her cousins was killed. I am now fortunate enough to have her as a constituent of mine in the electorate of Niddrie.

Norma and Susan Dirgham of Adult Multicultural Education Services have worked together to create a magazine titled Beloved Syria, which aims to present the rich culture of Syria and convey the strength of its people. Before the civil war, Norma was a tour guide and an English tutor, passionate about sharing her love for Syria and its people with others. Today, as a Melbourne resident, she uses the quarterly magazine Beloved Syria as a vehicle for sharing her passion. Beloved Syria features poetry in English and Arabic translated by Norma, as well as photos of life in Syria before the conflict — taken by Susan when she lived there — and interviews with Syrians about their lives before and after the conflict. The contributors come from a variety of faiths and are now spread across the world. Some of the interviewees have sought refuge in countries including Italy, Sweden and Germany. Others remain trapped in Syria as war continues to ravage the country.

Yesterday Norma Medawar visited Parliament to tell her story to me and my colleagues.She enjoyed a great deal of support from all those in attendance, and we are looking forward to working with her going forward to help her promote her magazine, Beloved Syria. Thank you, Norma. You are doing very well in your new home of Australia.

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