CAPSA in Action – using your VOICE
By Magdalene Konneh
USING YOUR VOICE TO HEAL
The following is a reflection on ‘healing’ by Magdalene Konneh, originally published on 21 June 2022, on the Jesuit Refugee Service Australia website as part of Refugee Week 2022.
Healing in medical terminology involves the repair of the living tissues and organs and the resumption of functioning.
But it’s a different meaning when it comes to people like us who have lived experience as refugees and people seeking asylum.
For me, healing was a painful process that has enabled me to overcome neglect, discrimination, homelessness, hunger and many barriers. My healing process has taught me to think, speak out, put my broken pieces together, do it alone, be strong, be open-minded to others, to make me feel better, and be more steadfast in working towards achieving my goals.
Healing makes me find my true self, my inner peace and also how to love and care for myself to make me feel well and active.
Healing can manifest in many ways – storytelling, community building, our connection to others.
All these things have helped me in my healing journey but storytelling and my connection to others are the two most important things in my healing process.
Each time I meet and connect with people, it opens up a space for me to get to know more about them and their culture, establish friendships, exchange ideas, and be a contact point for further assistance and networking.
Every time I tell a story, it reduces my level of depression and gives me a sense of hope. It makes me feel like there are people who can listen to me and understand exactly what every refugee and asylum seeker is going through.
Telling my story reminds me of my duty as a journalist, an activist and advocate to speak on behalf of the voiceless, to represent the vulnerable, and be a role model to the hopeless.
There are many things the wider community can do to help refugees and people seeking asylum.
Donate clothes and food to refugee organisations.
Take actions that will lead to positive policy change.
Help empower us through providing opportunities of training and education so we can learn to be able to stand up for ourselves and find employment.
Invite a refugee or person seeking asylum for dinner – we are missing those family round table meals.
Encourage us to speak out – it helps us to heal, motivate us, and makes us feel like we belong.
Welcome us with an open hands and hearts.
Magdalene Konneh is a sports journalist, advocate for the rights of women and girls, and an anti-FGM activist originally from Sierra Leone. She fled persecution from her home country and arrived in Australia in 2018.
Since then, Magdalene has empowered herself through education at TAFE and has been an avid collaborator with JRS Australia through the Leadership Program. She regularly engages with schools, parishes, and communities by sharing her story and expertise as someone with lived experience of displacement.
If you’re interested in hearing more from Magdalene and others with lived experience of forced displacement, JRS Australia regularly hosts Community Conversations with schools, parishes and community groups to raise awareness about issues refugees and people seeking asylum face. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.