Sunday, October 17, 2010

'Happy tears' as sisters meet

Two sisters were reunited for the first time in five years when 18 new refugees arrived at Nelson Airport yesterday.
Two families of six, a married couple, a father and son, and two orphaned young women from Myanmar's Chin state will start new lives in Nelson.
With her husband and four children, Dawt Iang Lianching joins her older sister Thluai Pai Chun, who has been living here since 2005.
The sisters exchanged tearful hugs and were soon joking with each other.
"She looks different – younger," said Mrs Lianching. "She looks different – older," shot back her older sister.
Speaking through Refugee Services cross-cultural worker Sui-Ting Cinzah, Mrs Lianching said she was happy to be in Nelson.
"I missed my sister, and I was so happy and my tears came down. These are happy tears."
Myanmar, formerly Burma, has spent decades in the grip of a military junta. Mrs Lianching had spent time in an asylum in Malaysia.
Mrs Chun said she had missed her family but was happy with her new life in Nelson. However, she had been so nervous before her sister's arrival that she couldn't sleep the night before.
"She was still in my mind. I can't forget her.
"I like Nelson. All the people are very nice to refugee people and we have lots of support people," she said.
She said the most difficult thing was the language barrier and "culture shock", but she was slowly overcoming them. "When I first got here, I really wanted to talk to other people but I couldn't speak, so I was really isolated. But I feel better now and I'm very happy now."
Refugee Services volunteer Anne Cameron said settling in was a difficult time.
Another intake of refugees is due in December, and Refugee Services needs new furniture for them. Call 5484978 if you can help or would like to be part of the new volunteer intake in February.