FLEEING TO a foreign country for fear of one's safety is a terrifying experience.
Within the Ballarat community, a refugee welcome zone, there are many refugee families and others seeking asylum.
On Sunday dozens of Ballarat community members enjoyed a picnic at Kirks Reservoir with refugees and asylum seekers living within the community in an effort to provide support and highlight how many people within the community wish to welcome them.
The Picnic with Refugees and People Seeking Asylum, hosted by the Ballarat Rural Australians for Refugees group, was started by Kath Morton in 2014, while there are many other supportive events hosted throughout the annual calendar.
For Susan Dahal, who has been living in Ballarat for about two years, such events are vital to meet other community members.
After being released from detention, Ms Dahal arrived in Ballarat with her husband and two children, Suyog, 3, and Success, 6.
Tragically, when Ms Dahal and her husband fled their home country they were unable to bring their eldest two children, who remain in Nepal with Ms Dahal's mother.
The family is on a temporary visa, known as a safe haven enterprise visa (SHEV), of which one of the requirements is to move to a regional area.
Having met numerous Ballarat residents - including members of the RAR group - who visited the detention centre they were held in, the decision was made to start their new life in Ballarat.
Ms Dahal said that while her family had received a lot of emotional, physical and even financial support from refugee support groups in Ballarat who have helped her family to start their new lives, she has also been faced with racism and discrimination.
She believes events such as the picnic are vital for the integration or refugees and asylum seekers within the community so that they can befriend community members, as they are often isolated due to issues such as language barriers.
The picnic is also a supportive place where new friends can be met and understanding created, but it is also an opportunity to meet other families in similar situations who could empathise with their plight so they feel less alone.
"It is very important so people know that we are actually the same, we are not different. People who come as a refugee or an asylum seeker are the same [as everyone else]," she said.
Requirements of the SHEV visa include working and studying, with the full cost of the course required to be paid up front.
This places a huge financial burden on the small family as there are no childcare subsidies, and so Ballarat community members have often stepped in to assist.
Personally, she has been struggling to find friends in Ballarat due to the difficulty of regular questioning of the legitimacy as to the reasons she fled her country.
Ms Dahal is studying early childhood education as she was a teacher in Nepal and though she said she did experience some unkindness from fellow students while studying her diploma, her teacher supported her to complete it.
"Some people's colour is different, some people's language is different but we all have the same kind of feelings," Ms Dahal said.
"Nobody leaves their country without any trouble. Without the fear for their lives. We came here as refugees because there was a danger in our life."
The Rural Australians for Refugees group is one of many groups supporting refugees and asylum seekers that are operating in the city, including Grandmothers Against Detention of Refugee Children and the House of Welcome.
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