Faces of Auckland: Refugee keen to help others

MONICA TISCHLER
Last updated 05:00 10/06/2014
Sadiki Ruhamya
Monica Tischler
HELPING OTHERS: Sadiki Ruhamya, 23, originally from Congo, is studying at Henderson's Unitec and wants to help empower other refugees.

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Faces of Auckland

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Auckland is one of the most multicultural cities in the world with more than a third of its citizens born overseas and boasting more than 200 nationalities living here.

Faces of Auckland is a series talking to those who have left all corners of the world to make their home here, reminding us why Auckland is so good.

SOCIAL WORK DREAM

Sadiki Ruhamya wants to become a social worker to help empower refugees and give them a smooth transition into life in New Zealand. 

The 23-year-old was born in Congo, Africa, but moved to a refugee camp in Uganda in 2005 with his seven siblings.    
Upon arriving in New Zealand in 2010 and spending a month at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre, Ruhamya felt the adjustment into Western civilization easy.

''In Uganda, I didn't know where I'd end up next.

''I didn't choose to come to New Zealand but I was very blessed after the Government accepted me as a refugee.

''I now want to empower others like me,'' he said.

The West Auckland resident is studying a social practice degree at Henderson's Unitec to give refugees a voice.

''They need someone to speak for them.

''Some refugees struggle to express their feelings to others here in New Zealand because of the trauma they've been through.''

Despite both parents dying when he was young, Ruhamya remembers a ''good life'' in Congo before the war hit in 2004.

It was his oldest sister's decision to move to Uganda, where life became ''hard.''

''Life there wasn't easy because there were no opportunities - you couldn't work or go to school,'' he said.

Ruhamya did manage to find work though - as a tailor in a shop owned by his brother's friend.

It was a welcome relief coming to New Zealand.

''It felt like paradise.

''I didn't struggle to adjust because in Mangere we had social workers and a group of volunteers to help us into school, find a doctor and provide us with a house.''

Ruhamya's now immersing into the Kiwi way of life, living with his three brothers in Glendene while the rest of his siblings reside together in Te Atatu.

''I love New Zealanders. They're so friendly and kind.

''One thing I don't like though is the inconsistent weather,'' Ruhamya said. 

FIVE QUESTIONS

Is New Zealand tolerant of different cultures and are you able to express your cultural identity fully here?

Yes, the help received at the Mangere refugee centre made it easy to fit into life here and I've never experienced discrimination.

Have you ever travelled in New Zealand outside of Auckland and where to?

I went to Dunedin in 2011 for the filming of the movie Mr Pip. I spent a week down there as an extra character, acting as a Papa New Guinea resident. 

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I've also been to Hamilton for the wedding of a friend I met at the Mangere refugee centre.

What is best about being an Aucklander?

It's home to many people from my country and when I see them I feel like I'm home. 

If I was Auckland mayor I would...

I walked past Len Brown at Henderson's WestCity Shopping Centre. I didn't know he was mayor but he smiled and acknowledged me as we crossed paths. I later found out who he was and was surprised at how humble he was.

In Congo, the mayor is highly protected.

If I was mayor, I'd continue to be humble like Len Brown and smile at people. 

Do you watch rugby and do you support the All Blacks?

I watched it on the big screen in Auckland city during the Rugby World Cup and was supporting the All Blacks. It's a new game and I only started watching it in New Zealand. 

During school at Rutherford College we played it in class and most of the students there were very big so I just learnt how to run - not kick or tackle.

- Auckland

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