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Red Cross uses pillowcases to help prepare migrant families for Australia's natural disasters

Jessica Hinchliffe, Monday September 25, 2017 - 12:21 EST
ABC image
Migrant mothers and their children are learning how to prepare for emergencies. - ABC

Storms can be scary for many of us, but when you are new to Australia and English is not your first language, it can be extra terrifying.

For the first time, Arabic-speaking mothers and their children have taken part in a Red Cross workshop to learn how best to prepare for weather emergencies.

The group was spoken to in both Arabic and English to ensure that key preparedness messages were imparted clearly.

"We're wanting migrant families to take the time to think about what will affect themselves and their families," Red Cross emergency services project officer Suzanne Brangwin said.



"We teach them the four main steps that the Red Cross encourages people to do to prepare their families.

"Emergencies can be scary and they can be quite different to where they're from."



During the workshop the children undertook a Pillowcase Project lesson, where they learnt what to pack in their very own emergency kit.

"We talk to the children about the emergencies and what they might expect, how they can remain calm, and then what to pack," Ms Brangwin said.

"They then get a pillowcase which they decorate and store their emergency items in, to have that ready.

"The children feel safer and better prepared."





The Red Cross has been making a concerted effort ahead of storm season to visit Brisbane's migrant communities and places where English might not be the language spoken at home.

"Research shows that migrants are more vulnerable because they don't have access to the information and services that locals do, and they don't have experience with local disasters," Ms Brangwin said.

"Working with migrant communities is very rewarding and it's great when you see that the information has clicked."



One of the mothers, Marwa Mahmoud, said it was comforting to get the important information in both Arabic and English.

"I'm happy to learn what I can do to save myself and my family," she said.

"We were in Townsville and went through Cyclone Etta so we have some experience, but it was scary."

Souma Meshref said last year her family experienced their first Queensland storm.

"It was a scary experience and it was a new experience too," she said.

"When you're not used to an experience, before you need to know every step that can save your life."


- ABC

© ABC 2017

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