City puts on welcome party

Recent Congolese arrivals will be embraced at a traditional welcoming event this weekend. Shepparton’s Congolese Community president Jean-Michel Batakane said the celebration was set to welcome the newcomers in traditional way — with lots of food and entertainment.

“Usually in our tradition when we have a new arrival or a visitor, they can’t go home without eating — so with that being said we’re going to cook them some Congolese traditional food and share with not only the Congolese who are here but also friends of Congolese who are from different communities including Australians as well as other migrant communities,” he said.

Mr Batakane said equally as important as sharing a meal, entertainment was a must. “We can’t have a Congolese event without music — that just wouldn’t be a Congolese event.” Mr Batakane said he felt the event was a significant time and a chance to assure the new arrivals that they were not alone.

“When I first came here I didn’t even know there was any Congolese in Shepparton, I didn’t even know there was a place called Shepparton — so when I was first brought here I was terrified,” he said. “When I arrived, as much as I appreciated the fact that there was an organisation that was there to help me to settle and know the place, I was more happy when I first met a Congolese person who could speak my language.”

I felt like I wasn’t alone.

Mr Batakane said he wanted the Congolese who had recently arrived to be able to experience the same comfort he did. He said due to the change in lifestyle that the new arrivals were entering into, he felt the gathering was also a way of supporting and guiding them.

I believe that every Congolese has a story of their own — of their experience, of their life — so when we have people reaching the moment of coming to Australia it means they’ve gone through all the pressures of being a refugee and experiencing all the life hardship that anyone could have — so when they arrive here, we’ve been through that and we understand the situation and know that they need a family, they need someone to stand with them and show them the ways of how things are done here.

“There’s obviously Australian laws which in our country they’re not so much a crime but here it’s a crime, so this is a way for new arrivals to interact with locals and learn more from them.” Mr Batakane said the event was open to anyone who wished to join in welcoming the new Congolese people and meet new faces.


All set for party: Shepparton’s Congolese Community board member and adviser Louise Baguma, president Jean-Michel Batakane and secretary Thierry Bukeni Shalalo are ready to put out a welcome mat.


Source: Shepparton News 21 Feb 2019
Image: Courtesy Shepp News



Congolese Community, Recent Congolese arrivals, settlement in Shepparton


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