Across Auckland, former refugee women are transforming their lives in enterprising ways.   Organisations and individuals are invited to learn more about their re-settlement journeys and how they are making great strides in their lives through their participation in community projects run by partner organisations, Auckland Refugee Community Coalition (ARCC) and Auckland Regional Migrant Services (ARMS Trust).

The Making a Difference Friends-Raiser takes place on 10 December, at the historic Warnock House in Grey Lynn, starting at 7pm. At this special event being held on UN Human Rights Day, women will share the stories.

One woman who will be sharing her incredible journey is 53-year-old Eritrean-Sudanese Senet Abdu Mohamed. Senet fled to Sudan from Eritrea in 1977. Living in a large refugee camp in Sudan for 25 years, she gave birth to seven children – five girls and two boys.

When Senet and her family of seven moved to New Zealand after spending 25 years in a Sudanese refugee camp, they spent six weeks at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre before moving into a house but they were plagued with problems.

“It was not a safe area, we were robbed twice and the neighbours were not friendly,” she explains.

Housing New Zealand gave the family a house in Henderson but that too was burgled.

Senet found solace at the Massey WISE Hub, which she was introduced to by her daughter. She says: “When I arrived at the Hub, I found the people welcoming and there were people from different countries too.”

WISE staff taught Senet how to follow New Zealand recipes and crochet. She attended the Food Safety Handling course and passed the exam. Senet is now part of the WISE catering service.

“[WISE catering service] is my way of sharing my culture. I am very happy to have this opportunity to earn extra little income for my family.”

For Senet, the WISE Collective has given her more than just a path to self-employment and enterprise. “I have more confidence since coming to WISE Collective.

“I noticed a difference in my memory from crocheting a blanket, I was able to focus more. Coming to WISE Collective Hub has also increased my spoken English because I meet women from different cultures – so I have to speak English. I have made friends from different cultures.”

Senet and other members of the WISE Collective will be sharing their stories at the Friends-Raiser.

Attending this event will give people an opportunity to become more informed about these community partnership projects – WISE Collective and the Safari Multicultural Play Groups – run by the ARCC and ARMS Trust.

More than 240 women from 12 different countries are currently engaged in various aspects of these projects, or have moved onto other enterprise, training or employment pathways.

Guests will have the chance to find out more about the ARCC/ARMS partnership, sample the WISE women’s revered ethnic cuisine, meet women involved in the WISE and Safari Projects, purchase handmade blankets and jewellery, hear more about future plans for these projects, and find out how they can become involved in supporting the projects.

These community projects rely on wider community support to continue making a difference in the lives of former refugee families living in Auckland.

“While funds help, it is being able to gather up more supporters or friends that is really priceless,” says ARMS Chief Executive Mary Dawson.

We welcome the skills, networks or knowledge to contribute to the aspirations of our former refugees who are determined to make a success of their lives here in Auckland”, adds Abann Yor, Chair of the ARCC.


Ticket Prices: Single: $65, Two or more: $60 per head

All ticket sales go to the running of ARCC and ARMS community projects.

For more information and to buy tickets click here.