On Saturday 13 October, the Rohingya community of Brisbane organised an event in Durack, Brisbane to get the entire community together in order to have fun and have some food together, but at the same time, build some community-based work.
A large part of the day was to recognise the sporting achievements of the Rohingya community – of which there is much to be proud of. The ’Rohingya Get Together Barbecue’ was sponsored by the Burmese Rohingya community.
The ever-resilient Rohingyas once again showed their courage in that attendees were large in number despite the unrelenting wild weather.
As the high-achieving former student of the Australian International Islamic College in Durack, Brisbane and a member of the successful Rohingya cricket team, Salim Mohammed, described:
“It was fun and it was fantastic to see my community always showing support where needed.”
The Rohingya cricket team in Queensland, the Rohingya Strikers Queensland, is the first and only Rohingya cricket team in Australia, sponsored by the state government.
Since its establishment six years ago, the team has won a major competition six months ago between two federal MPs, Moreton and Runcorn.
True to the Aussie way, as young 11 and 12-year-olds, they saw cricket being played on television and gave cricket a go. Fast forward to today and the team has achieved tremendously.
Importantly, the get together had a purpose to highlight a powerful message to the members of the Rohingya community.
The President of the Burmese Rohingya Association in Queensland, Mr Hossain Johar, emphasised the importance of ‘giving back’ to the wider Australian society for the young Australian Rohingyas.
He stressed the importance of representing Rohingya economically, and financially, through education, health or sports; not forgetting that they live in Australia, the country that has given them the opportunity to be where they are today.
“The speech [from the president] was very powerful and strong, but smooth and friendly. It was to the level that the youngsters can pay attention. I would say from the event, the youngsters were very empowered to do better than what they were doing,” said Salim.
Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims have been forced to flee from their homes in Myanmar. The government of Myanmar, a predominantly Buddhist country, maintains that the Rohingya people are illegal immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh and has denied them citizenship, leaving them stateless.
The systematic discrimination against the Rohingya people has reduced them to living in appalling conditions and segregated, with restricted access to schools, healthcare and jobs.
The UN has described the latest mass exodus of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar as “the world’s fastest-growing refugee crisis” and “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.
Despite an underprivileged background, Salim has proven against all odds that greatness can be achieved with willpower and a determination to succeed.
Entering the Australian school system in Year 8, Salim had difficulties early on due to the language barrier and academic challenges, in addition to assimilating to a new country.
This impacted Salim’s grades in Year 8, 9, and 10 but instead of giving in, he took the challenge and continued studying through to Year 11 and Year 12.
After countless sleepless nights studying and going through struggles, Salim and his friend admirably made history in their school by gaining the highest OP’s (Overall Position) it has seen to this day, with OP’s 4 and 3 respectively.