First ever retreat for queer refugee women happened!

I remember when a year ago I submitted my research proposal to work with the group of queer refugee women, I was still fearful inside that I would not be able to find enough women who would want to participate. I never doubted that my research was important and it would make a difference. Yet, at that time when we’ve been in Australia for almost 5 years, I only knew a few more persons in addition to me and my partner.

This weekend the house was full of incredible women who were there happy to be in the moment knowing that they were not alone. During these 3 days, we were able to start building the links between us, carefully creating trustful relationships. We shared the most intimate moments from our stories among us who’ve been through the similar experience. Both the laughter and tears were able to bring the relief. There is hope and there is a community that we can build to belong.

We were able to identify the needs that we have and the support we need. Often we lack support from LGBTIQ and refugee NGOs. The time during the marriage equality debate was very damaging for us too. At times the absolute absence of support was heartbreaking. During the retreat, almost every woman said that she felt numb and wanted to know and discover who she truly was.

The amount of trauma, fear from oppressive experiences and the need to hide for the most part of your life in order to survive cannot disappear in days. We need help. By acknowledging this we are making the first step to healthy and better life. This retreat is the beginning of something bigger.

You all were a vital part of making this happen. Your support ensured that we all could meet and spend these 3 days together. It dramatically changes our lives for better. For this, I am truly grateful to you!

I’m grateful to people who donated to support the retreat; to people who shared the links about the crowdfunding and the research. I’ve met the majority of women thanks to you, people who I don’t even know because you shared the information about my research with them. I’m grateful to women who agreed to participate and trusted me their stories. I’m grateful to my gorgeous partner Renee Dixson who is with me every minute of it with her love, wisdom, support and hard work.

Having survived through the experience, we feel the responsibility to support others. We are committing to working to ensure that we can grow strong and supported in the community we create. This is not possible without your support and your belief in the importance of this work.

We are already starting to plan our next steps, retreats that will be focused on the skills and capacity building for women and partnerships. We will greatly appreciate if you could continue supporting us in any way you can.

With gratitude,
Tina and all of us.

Photos by Renee Dixson.