A nun whose parents once fled from Syria by boat has helped a Footscray organisation assisting asylum seekers raise more than $200,000.
Sister Rita and her team of ‘Nuns on the Run’ completed the 10-kilometre walk at the Melbourne Marathon last Sunday, raising $17,628 for the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.
The broader Run 4 Refugees campaign raised $220,000 for the ASRC, making it the top fundraising team.
Sister Rita assembled a group of six nuns from various parishes to join her for her 10th year participating in the campaign.
“My parents immigrated from Syria and were boat people,” she said. “I was born here and call Australia home. Asylum seekers seek to call Australia home as well.”
Sister Rita has volunteered at the ASRC for more than 15 years.
She spends a day each week as the day co-ordinator in the food bank and regularly visits unaccompanied minors in detention.
“We can materially help asylum seekers through counselling, casework, legal aid and all the various programs, but it’s really about bringing the dignity back to the person who is seeking asylum because they are stripped of everything in the community,” she said.
“The ASRC gives them dignity and respect, and treats them as a human being.”
Run 4 Refugees has raised almost $1 million since 2007 to support the ASRC’s frontline programs and services.