Wollongong City Council interviewed three of our staff members as part of Refugee Week 2020. They were all asked: “When did you feel welcome in Wollongong?”

Pleh Meh

Photo by Sam St Jon.


Pleh Meh moved to Wollongong from Myanmar in 2009. “Living here is not always easy, but we feel safe we don’t need to move all the time.

“When I was a refugee in Burma we were always moving to stay ahead of the soldiers.

We didn’t have a home, everything we needed we carried on our backs. When we stopped moving house in Australia, it felt good. Wollongong is the last place I will settle.

“Working at Green Connect: I like the garden, people encourage us and teach us and we grow super-hot chillies that I use in my cooking.”




Yawovi Koubaney

Photo by Sam St Jon.

Yawovi Koubaney has worked in our labour hire team since arriving from Togo last year.

“I couldn’t speak English at all when I first arrived and none of the other students in my English class were from Togo. It was really, really hard.

“My English teachers took notice of how hard I studied. They gave me a certificate for my achievement. It made me feel proud. I sometimes look at my certificate and gifts at home and remember that feeling.

“Green Connect helped me find work. I have two jobs. One of my jobs is sewing and another is with Soilco. My jobs have helped me improve my English.”



Mutebutsi Bugegeri

Photo by Sam St Jon.


Mutebutsi Bugegeri arrived from the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2016.

He said: “Everyone is a teacher for everyone else at Green Connect. I learn from each one.

We came on different tracks, we’re all from different countries, but we all share our experiences here, we share our culture.

We need connection. Connections are more important than money.

People are friendly where I live. My neighbours and I share taking in the bins for each other. We share lifts. My kids play with their Macedonian neighbours.”



To read more Welcome Stories, visit Wollongong City Council.