September 17, 2009

Fulfilling dreams

Fulfilling dreams

By Bridget Cook
17th September 2009

SINCE finding refuge in Australia Marama Kufi has made a life for himself and endeavours to help others in his situation to do the same.

His life journey, having fled from the war-stricken Oromo region of Ethiopia to Australia, recently led him to set up the South Eastern Oromo Community Health Team.

Photo: Marama Kufi set up the South Eastern Oromo Community Health Team.

In collaboration with Monash University and Cardinia-Casey and Southern Health’s Greater Dandenong Community Health Services, the team works with the Oromo community who have settled in the south-east region.

The team takes a health promotion approach to the issues of mental health, family relationships, domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse and the relationships between young people and their families.

The team has more than 10 members from health profession backgrounds including nurses, social workers and community health workers.

Every fortnight, the team delivers a 10-minute radio spot in the Oromo language on radio station 3ZZZ, discussing health and social issues.

It was Mr Kufi’s own experience that led him to initiate the team.

“Communities with a refugee background have very complex issues,” Mr Kufi said.

“Some are very depressed and some are very stressed because of family problems, family separation, war and conflict. I had the same experience where I came from, that’s why I want to support them,” Mr Kufi said.

“We come together, helping each other emotionally, sharing emotionally. To do something for the community is my dream,” he said.

In 1989 Mr Kufi fled Oromo and found himself across the border in the Yabus refugee camp, Sudan.

The work he would pursue one day in supporting the Oromo community took seed in his new country of Sudan, where his literacy led him to a logistical job with an aid organisation. In October 1999, he arrived in Melbourne with his wife Lensa Dinka and his niece.

In the past 10 years Mr Kufi has completed a number of certificates and diplomas including Adult Multicultural Education Services, Patient Service Assistance, IT, Accounting and Division Two Nursing. Mr Kufi said he considers himself lucky to possess the determination to make the most of his new life.

“I’m now passionate about helping those who cannot equally seize opportunities,” he said.

For more information about the South Eastern Oromo Community Health Team contact 5990 6304.


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