Sri Lankan asylum seekers find amazing welcome in Ipswich

ON A ROLL: The church community in Goodna has banded together to buy a car for a group of Sri Lankan asylum seekers.
ON A ROLL: The church community in Goodna has banded together to buy a car for a group of Sri Lankan asylum seekers. Rob Williams

SEVEN Sri Lankan asylum seekers have gone from being persecuted in their own country to being embraced by a church group in Collingwood Park.

The Crossroads Church has provided the seven Tamil men with a car, furniture and helped them get into rental accommodation in Goodna.

Pastor Keith Pellicaan was door knocking delivering food hampers when he met the men. They invited him in and he learnt of their plight.

"They showed us the bullet holes and shrapnel wounds they had on them," Mr Pellicaan said.

"They asked if we could help them and we got them a unit and put $2000 down getting them a bit of rent and settling them in. We got furniture, a fridge, a computer and some beds.

"They really needed a car so one of the guys in the church said he had one and would like to donate it. So we spent around $400 putting some tyres on it (a red Barina City) and getting it registered and we presented it to them last Sunday.

"We want to be like Jesus was 2000 years ago. We just want to help people.

"When we first met them they didn't have jobs. But we prayed for them and most of them had jobs the next day at the meatworks and in other businesses."

One of the men, Karthikeyan Sanmugam, explained how authorities in Sri Lanka persecuted them because they thought they were associated with the militant group the Tamil Tigers, even though they are not members of the group.

"The Sri Lankan army harassed us and tortured us...but we are innocent Tamil people," Mr Sanmugam said.

They fled to India and then to Australia by boat and then spent five months in detention centres- first at Christmas Island, then Darwin and Weipa.

"We are really grateful to Keith and the church because we never expected this kind of help," Mr Sanmugam said.

"We never saw God...but we see God through these people.

"Before we met them we didn't have jobs but one by one we have got jobs.

"We really like it here but our families are back in Sri Lanka and in refugee camps in India. Maybe in future we are going to get our family back."

Topics:  asylum seekers, collingwood park, sri lanka



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