60 seconds with Hope Mathumbu

FB_Hope1New motorist, twitter enthusiast and MCWH Project Officer

What are you enjoying doing at the moment?
I am enjoying a series of free exercise classes being offered by the Maribyrnong City Council’s Spring into Summer series. I decided to challenge myself this year and signed up for high intensity classes. It’s been a great experience. It’s really nice to live in a council that makes the health and well-being of all its residents a priority, especially given that it can be expensive to do some of these activities on a regular basis.

If you were a super-heroine, what powers would you have?
I would use my power to let people walk in other people’s shoes for a few hours (maybe days, depending on the person!). The dominant socio-political and economic landscapes really don’t give us the time and space to think about how we affect others or how other people are going. Maybe a bit of empathy would help…I hope so.

What talent would you most like to possess?
I wish I could tap dance or do some other kind of professional dancing, like swing dancing. I think that dancing can be a beautiful physical release.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone new to Australia, what would it be?
It’s a difficult question to answer because it would depend on many factors related to how they arrived and the resources they had when they arrived. I migrated to Australia from South Africa when I was 15 years old in 2003, with my mother and younger sister. Life then was so different, even pathways to social security, permanent residence and citizenship were so different. The only advice I could give to someone now would be practical advice about where to go for services relevant to their needs. I would also advise them to look for online communities where they can find people with similar experiences. Online communities really provide a wealth of information and comfort.

What’s your favourite word and why?
My favourite word is ‘Ubuntu.’ It is a Zulu word or Nguni/Bantu concept which loosely means ‘humanity.’ It is core to black South African humanist philosophy that celebrates common humanity. Ubuntu part of a Zulu phrase “Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu”, which means that a person is a person through other people. Ubuntu is, at the same time, a deeply personal philosophy that calls on us to mirror our humanity for each other. This philosophy is central to who I am as a person and guides how I go about holding myself on a day to day basis.

For you, what’s the best thing about being a woman from an immigrant refugee/ background?
The best part about being a woman from an immigrant or refugee background is that I have multiple frames of reference for anything I experience and I feel that makes my life richer. I can’t put it into words, but there is such a great value in understanding concepts or points of view from different cultures and languages.

If you could invite any woman, alive or deceased, to dinner, who would it be and why?
I am unable to choose at the moment, but a shortlist would be: Nina Simone, Rihanna, Tina Turner, Tracy Chapman and the late Sharon Jones. Their music and styles have really influenced me in ways I can’t describe. Love them all!

Name a book or a film that changed your life
A book that changed my life is Barbara Kingsolver’s ‘The Poisonwood Bible.’ I read it when I was a teenager. Even though I couldn’t articulate it at the time, it taught me a lot about the lasting effects of colonisation, it also taught me a lot about feminism. I also really like Khalil Gibran’s book ‘The Prophet.’ I like to go back to it from time to time as a way of meditating on various aspects of life.

What are you reading right now? (Blogs, books, magazines, or anything else!)
I read Twitter every minute! If you are following the right people/pages, there is always a lot to learn or think about. I am waiting for holiday season to start reading Roxane Gay’s book ‘Hunger.’ She is a brilliant writer and I wanted to give myself space to read the book with little distraction. I recently finished reading her other book ‘Difficult Women.’ It’s a series of short stories about women and I was really affected when I read that. She has a beautiful way of expressing things I find hard to articulate about my experiences as a woman.

Do you have a song/ music that inspires and motivates you?
It depends on the kind of motivation I need! I really love listening to Tracy Chapman to reenergise myself. I really love her song ‘Telling Stories’ because I feel like it talks about cognitive dissonance, and I feel like unfortunately there is a lot of that in life.

What is your favourite possession?
My car, though I have major guilt at how bad it is for the environment! I got my driver’s licence in Feb 2017. It just opened up my world – and emptied my pockets, but never mind about that! I really love how much more I can do now because of it.

What could you never be without?
Moisturiser!

If you could convince the world of one thing, what would it be?
That white privilege and supremacy are real and need to be dismantled, along with capitalism.

60 seconds with Rani Pramesti

Rani_Sedih-Sunno-4Performance maker, intercultural producer and advocate for diversity in the arts

What are you enjoying doing at the moment?
Collaborating with an illustrator to adapt my previous performance work, Chinese Whispers, into a digital graphic novel.

What is the best thing that has happened to you today?
It’s possibly the best but also the most challenging  – challenging a family member’s homophobic views as we shared lunch together.

If you were a super-heroine, what powers would you like to have?
To zap everyone, especially people in positions of power, privilege and money, into realising the value of the arts and investing in it accordingly.

What is your best quality or attribute?
I bring people together.

What is the best part of your day?
My daily morning walk.

What do you most value in your friends?
Kindness.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone new to Australia, what would it be?
Have your own definition of who you are. Be careful of falling into the ‘acceptable’ ways in which ‘people like you’ are seen, e.g. you can argue that it is more acceptable for people of refugee backgrounds to be seen always through the lens of ‘Victim’ or ‘Grateful Recipient of Help’. The dominant culture can get angry at you when you fall out of this narrow definition and show yourself as fully in charge of your own life.

What’s your favourite word and why?
Bahasa Indonesia: menjiwai, the root word being ‘jiwa’ or ‘soul’. It’s when you become so at one with something that your soul merges with it. It is the verb, ‘to soul’.

For you, what’s the best thing about being a woman from an immigrant or refugee background?
Connecting with other Women of Colour through our shared pains but also our shared strengths and resilience.

Name a book or a film that changed your life
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

What are you reading right now?
Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine
Confluence in Collaborations by Kei Murakami
Silence by Thich Nhat Hanh (re-reading for the third time…)

What is your favourite possession?
My grandparent’s letters to each other.

What could you never be without?
My breath.

If you could meet the Prime Minister tomorrow, what would you like to tell him?
Stop taking up so much time and space. Listening is a form of action. Know your privileges and act from a place of responsibility based on this awareness.

You can support Rani’s Pozible Campaign for THE CHINESE WHISPERS 2018: a bilingual, digital graphic novel inspired by the racial violence of May 1998 in Indonesia.

60 seconds with Lisha Constantino-Murphy

Lisha (002)Story creator and aspiring documentary maker

What are you enjoying doing at the moment?
At the moment I am enjoying the fact that I can celebrate some of my team’s achievements, particularly in community-based health promotion (at Djerriwarrh Health Services). Last weekend we celebrated the Dream Big Festival in Melton South for the third year in a row. Melton South is marked by experiences of disadvantage, and when we began working there the residents had to overcome stigma and negative perceptions associated with their community. Seeing the Melton South community showcasing their art, culture, talent and generosity was an absolute pleasure to be part of. It was a vibrant celebration of a community coming together. It has been really rewarding seeing all the relationships that have been formed, the collaborative actions which have taken place around preventing violence against women, promoting social inclusion and cohesion and the stronger sense of community that has been built through our work.

If you had a magic wand, what would you use it for?
I would love to have a happiness wand, I feel like there are so many people out there who are battling mental health issues. There is still so much stigma attached to mental health and it makes it even more difficult for people to look after themselves and, more importantly, to ask for help when they need it. My magic wand would help bring happiness to those who are struggling with their mental health, I know how disabling it can be.

What talent would you most like to possess?
I wish I could sing. Singer/song writers have so much power as they tell and share stories to last the ages.

What is your best quality or attribute?
I believe I’m a good friend. I really value friendships I think they can get us through the worst of times and make our happiest moments even richer!

What is the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is that it is largely unpredictable. Having worked in Health Promotion for close to a decade I am passionate about the power of community and have been fortunate enough to have roles where I work with communities to realise their aspirations. It has been such a beautiful ride and I never stop being blown away by the creativity, generosity and innovation that comes from community.

If you could have any job in the world what would it be?
I feel pretty lucky to be doing the type of working I am doing but if I had to choose a fantasy job I would love to be a documentary filmmaker travelling the world documenting people’s stories, especially the stories of women.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone new to Australia, what would it be?
I came to Australia as a child so I suppose my experiences of settlement would be very different to an adult, especially adults coming to Australia with their families. Growing up there is so much emphasis on trying to fit in and trying to belong. If I could give advice to a young person that is new to Australia I would say that although it can be hard sometimes, try and celebrate all that is unique and different about you. Everything that makes us different and unique is actually the gift we give back to the world, it helps us find our purpose, so don’t ever, ever trade it in to be just like everyone else.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a woman from an immigrant or refugee background?
Always feeling that I have to catch up because I didn’t have the same foundation or starting point as my peers. This was probably more pronounced when I first arrived in Australia and I had to learn the language and deal with the settlement issues my parents were navigating at the time such as finding meaningful employment, social networks and support.

Can you describe a time where you felt discriminated against as a woman or as someone with an immigrant and refugee background?
I don’t think a week goes by where my race, cultural identity or background isn’t raised. Although it is not always negative, the comments always make me aware that I’m perceived as ‘different’ and because of that I feel judged in a way.

For you, what’s the best thing about being a woman from an immigrant refugee/ background?
The fact that I have story, a story of survival from the journey that I have travelled with my family. I love the fact that the history of my family is only just being created in Australia and that we are in turn influencing Australia’s history.

If you could invite any woman, (dead or living) to dinner, who would it be and why?
So many! My grandmother for one, who I never met, she was a poet who died from a broken heart. Frida Kahlo, Maya Angelou, Michelle Obama, Amy Winehouse, Arundhati Roy, Merlinda Bobis, it would be quite a party. I have always believed amazing things come out of women being together.

Tell me about an amazing woman you know.
I want to talk about three women, my mum Jovita and two younger sisters, Aimee and Clarisse. They are all amazing in their own way.  My mum has never stopped fighting for as long as she has been alive. I hope she knows how much I love, respect and admire her. Mum has worked in disability service for over twenty years, a job that is tough on her body and spirit, but this has never wavered her commitment to ensuring the individuals she cares for live meaningful, dignified lives. My younger sisters are my best friends and they are both my source for inspiration and strength. They have both gone through so much, especially our youngest Clarisse and she continues to live out her life with a strength and dignity beyond her years.

60 seconds with Solmaz Yavari: Queen fan, case manager and aspiring rodeo rider

Multi Cultural Hub Portraiture

What are you enjoying doing at the moment?
I do enjoy advocating for people rights and
I feel fortunate that I am in the position of being able to do so.

If you had a magic wand, what would you use it for?
If I had a magic wand, I would have used it to change the negative perceptions towards migrants, refugees and specifically asylum seekers.

What talent would you most like to possess?
I’d love to be rodeo rider!

What is the best part of your job?
As a case manager, I love it that my clients feel comfortable enough to share the personal challenges in their lives with me and that I can support them through their journey to make their decisions on what works for them best.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone new to Australia, what would it be?
I would say what one of my teachers told me while ago. He said: “If you plan to migrate to a country, you do need to know the history of your country and the country you migrating to, perfectly.

What’s your favourite word in the English language? Why?
I do not have a favourite word in English but one expression I love is “and I mean it this time”, probably because I do mean it this time!

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a woman from an immigrant or refugee background?
It has been quite challenging, in fact it has given me a lot of pain to prove what technical and professional skills I have brought to this country. I seem to have to prove myself over and over.

For you, what’s the best thing about being a woman from an immigrant/refugee background?
Being a woman from a different background has enabled me to be more thoughtful of the challenges other women from other backgrounds are facing. It helps me to understand them more and be able to build rapport more quickly with them. I understand.

Tell me about an amazing woman you know.
My friend Beverly, a retired primary school teacher. She was our first Australian friend in Australia who welcomed my family and I in a very sincere natural way. Bev included us as her family from the first day she met us. She is also amazing in what she has done in her personal life, a life full of giving and caring for others, and accepting others as they are regardless of their races.

What are you reading right now?
I am currently reading ‘No Man’s Land’ by David Baldacci.

Do you have a song/music that inspires and motivates you?
The song “Show Must Go On!” by Queen always makes me keep going however recently listening to the song “Despacito” inspires me a lot, specially this version by 2cellos.

What could you never be without?
Love.

If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
Stopping the wars.

If you could meet the Prime Minister tomorrow, what would like to tell him?
I would let him know how painful it can be to witness that families, children, single adults, fathers, mothers suffering day to day as a result of the current policy in place not being able to reunite with their families.

60 Seconds with Doseda Hetherington

Profile DosedaWomen’s health worker and gender equality advocate

What are you enjoying doing at the moment?
I’ve recently been inspired by a documentary on living minimally – it really resonated with me and I’ve since been slowing getting rid of the stuff in my life that I no longer use or need. It’s such a great feeling to be able to let go of things, because at the end of the day they are just things.

What is the best thing that has happened to you today?
Feeling part of an inclusive workplace – enjoying the company of my beautiful work colleagues.

If you had a magic wand, what would you use it for?
Gender equality, of course.

What talent would you most like to possess?
I would love to have the talent to end gender-based violence.

What is the best part of your day?
Seeing my kids when I pick them up from school – I always miss their little faces

What do you most value in your friends? 
In my friends I value our differences – everyone is different and we can learn so much from each other. I also value their time, because time is so precious!

If you could give one piece of advice to someone new to Australia, what would it be? Or what has been the biggest challenge of living in Australia so far?
When I arrived in Australia 30 years ago (our family moved from New Zealand, and previous to that we were refugees from Cambodia), what I found the most challenging thing to deal with was the racism that I encountered. Being a young girl, it was really hard to understand why people felt hatred, purely based on the way I looked. The one piece of advice I would give to someone new to Australia is reach out to people in your community. If you’re doing an English language class – make sure you do things outside of class together.

Can you describe a time where you felt discriminated against as a woman or as someone with an immigrant and refugee background?
I distinctly remember when I was about 12 walking to the shops with my older sister and being racially abused by about five men from a van. I remember them shouting out disgusting things to us and fearing for our safety. We got home and I just burst out crying.

For you, what’s the best thing about being a woman from an immigrant refugee/ background?
Over the years, I’ve really learned to love who I am and the differences I bring to people around me. In my previous role as a media adviser, I was fortunate enough to work with refugee and migrant students – one moment that stood out for me was when I met with a young Cambodian student, who said she was really inspired by what I had achieved as someone from a refugee background. I later learned that she became an ambassador for migrant students, which was so awesome to hear!

Tell me about an amazing woman you know.
Definitely my mum. I baffles me to this day how she and my dad could escape a war-torn country by foot, pregnant with two young children. She has instilled strong values in all of her three children, prioritising our health and safety, but also ensuring that we had an education.

Name a book or a film that changed your life.
I’m currently reading ‘First They Killed My Father’, a book based on a five-year old’s account of her time in Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge. As I read the book, it’s so hard for me to imagine the horrific experiences people had to suffer through. I was only a baby when we were sponsored to go to New Zealand, so I consider myself extremely lucky to have grown up in countries where there was no war.

What does multiculturalism mean to you?
To me, multiculturalism means embracing different cultures and having the opportunity to learn more about cultures that are not your own. It means recognising the benefits of a society that is inclusive.

If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
People are scared of the unknown. It would be so great if people could just take the time to understand and learn more about people and cultures before they judge.

If you could meet the Prime Minister tomorrow, what would you like to tell him?
Stop taxing tampons

Finish this sentence: “We need feminism because….
In 2017, women and men should have equal rights, full stop.

60 seconds with Sasha Sarago

Sasha Sarago

Editor and co-founder of Ascension magazine and proud Aboriginal woman

What are you enjoying doing at the moment?
Right now I am enjoying my research of Indigenous feminism and Australia’s colonial frameworks for a documentary I am producing.

If you had a magic wand, what would you use it for?
If I had a magic wand, I would use it to help the masses realise and utilise their true potential.

What do you most value in your friends?
I value my friend’s generosity. I love my friend’s capacity to love with all their heart. I admire how they offer their knowledge freely and support my dreams. I marvel at their ability to challenge me to be the best version of myself. And I adore how they nurture my emotional and spiritual growth.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone new to Australia, what would it be?
The most important piece of advice I would impart to someone new to Australia is to protect, maintain and celebrate your culture and identity with every fibre of your being.

What’s your favourite word in any language? Why?
My favourite word is “Girgorou” which means beautiful in Jirrbal my grandmother’s language; we are the Rainforest people of Far North Queensland. I love this word because it describes my people and our language, country and culture.

If you could invite any woman, (dead or living) to dinner, who would it be and why?
It would be my grandmother. Firstly, I would love to meet her. Unfortunately, she died long before I was born. I would ask her about our Jirrbal culture and what it was like living as an Aboriginal woman in her time. I’d also ask her to share every piece of wisdom she could pass on to me for the next generation.

What are you reading right now?
Skin Deep: Settler impressions of Aboriginal women, by Dr Liz Conor.

If you could convince the world of one thing, what would it be?
We are all human beings. Nothing more, nothing less.