Give Hope to Asylum Seekers through the BASF Winter Appeal

Give Hope to Asylum Seekers through the BASF Winter Appeal

The Social Justice Forum is encouraging all Uniting staff and members of the Uniting Church to make a contribution to the Bridge for Asylum Seekers Foundation (BASF) 2016 Winter Appeal, which ends on June 25.

In NSW, there are 9,000 asylum seekers living in the community and awaiting the outcome of their Protection Visa applications. Many have to wait anxiously for long periods before being granted a Permanent Protection Visa. Some have had their first claim for asylum refused and now wait for a review; others are going through the long process of transferring from one visa category to another.

Facing prolonged uncertainty in the community and being without the legal right to work (or to receive adequate government support) means that many asylum seekers have “fallen through the cracks”. The emotional and psychological wellbeing of these people is seriously compromised as they’re forced to “live in limbo”. A day-to-day state of being unsure if they’ll be offered asylum in Australia, deported to an offshore detention centre or possibly sent back to the country from which they came.

Despite their circumstances, though, many show great courage and resilience and still maintain the hope that they’ll be able to create a promising life for themselves in Australia.

In the meantime, there are organisations such as the Bridge for Asylum Seekers Foundation which provide practical assistance and support for these individuals in their time of need.

Edwin Ocha Ikwu was helped by BASF. Soon after arriving in Australia from Nigeria for a Rotary International Convention, Edwin fell ill with a mysterious infection. He was admitted to the emergency care unit where he spent three weeks on a dialysis machine. He also required extensive life-saving surgery whereby his legs and hands were amputated and his mouth and nose reconstructed.

Edwin remained in hospital for six months and was then moved to a rehabilitation centre. After this, he was finally able to find temporary accommodation at his sister’s home in Sydney, where the whole family had to deal with the resulting financial stress.

Upon consultation with a legal firm about his situation, Edwin was told he had no other choice but to return to Nigeria. Around this time he made contact with BASF, where committee member Frances Milne decided to take on his case. As a result of her efforts, they have both received Bridging Visas which will allow them to remain in Australia until their claim for protection is determined. Frances was also able to secure suitable accommodation and some food relief for them, all of which Edwin attributes to saving his life. He says “BASF has brought hope and life back to the hopeless.”

Bridge for Asylum Seekers Foundation is a coalition of non-government and not-for-profit organisations, under the auspices of Uniting. BASF has done some remarkable fundraising work. Since it was established in 2003, it has raising $3 million in funding from other non-government organisations and from the generosity of individuals. This money currently goes towards funding the basic needs of more than 100 asylum seekers in the community, including 30 children. BASF does this by channelling funds via the Asylum Seeker Centre in Sydney towards practical assistance, such as living allowances, for those most in need and at risk.

BASF is hoping to raise $100,000 by the end of Refugee week 2016 (19-25 June) and they need your help! To make a donation, go now to the Bridge for Asylum Seekers Foundation donation page.

See more at our Give Hope website

(Pictured) Edwin Ikwu after his surgery (pictured left). He is enormously appreciative of the support he received from the Bridge for Asylum Seekers Foundation and its committee members (pictured right).


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