Ma Ka La and Tha Hser have called Bendigo home for five weeks.

The Karen refugees have only known life in the Mae La Refugee Camp in Thailand where they were born and raised.

Today they share their stories, thoughts and dreams as we celebrate International Refugee Day and Refugee Week 2018 ... 

Tell us about yourself

Ma Ka la

I am 20 years.

I was born in Mae La Refugee Camp and until coming to Australia have spent my entire life in the camp. I was not able to go outside the camp.

I arrived in Australia on 3 May, 2018. For one year I knew I was coming to live in Australia. I knew little about Australia before leaving Thailand but I did know that all people are equal in Australia, people are treated equally under the law and people have freedom of speech and that is why I am so happy to be able to come to live in Australia.

If I have a chance to live in Australia it will be a chance to have study past Year 12 for my future. This is a great opportunity for me to continue to study and achieve my aim of becoming a nurse.

I can also help my family who are still in Mae La Refugee Camp.

Tha Hser

I arrived in Bendigo on 3 May, 2018. 10 years ago I found out about the chance to come to Australia. I knew the location of Australia, kangaroos, koalas and other Australian animals.

What are your goals?

Ma Ka la

I want to improve my English and practice English conversation. I have studied English at the school at Mae La camp for the past nine years with a Karen teacher but need to improve. I have to try hard on my study and to improve English, it is broken. I like English class to improve English but need more chance to practice English.

At school the teachers help us and treat us as friends, we are not looked down on.

I learnt about health as a subject at school in the camp. Actually I will try hard for higher education and to study nursing. I wish to look after people with a disability to help if they need help. If I become a nurse I can help other people who need my help and also because my family and Karen people who don’t have education I can help them as well.

Tha Hser

I would like to become a nurse; I like helping people and learning about health. Getting a licence and getting my own house. Leaning about the Australian government systems and the Australian way of life will help me achieve my dreams.

What are your favorite places in Bendigo so far?

Ma Ka la

I don’t have a favorite place yet. I stay at home at my sponsor’s house and go to school during the day. I haven’t been to the theatre as none in the camp. I cannot ride a bike yet.

Tha Hser

Being in Australia in general. I enjoy going to school and leaning English, being with family and friends.

What has helped you settle into Bendigo?

Ma Ka la

Bendigo Community Health has helped get my Centrelink card and living money and teachers have helped my English. Having a sponsor in Bendigo. I like Bendigo and the weather is colder than Thailand.

Tha Hser

What has been of help to me coming to Australia has been having family living in Australia, the Orientation Program offered by Bendigo Community Health Services, friends and English lessons. 

What are your dreams?

Ma Ka la

To study hard and work as a nurse. to get a car licence and later to have a house in Bendigo.

Tha Hser

To study hard and work hard. To have a part-time job and earn money. To become a nurse.


Bendigo Community Health Services supports new arrivals to Bendigo with a range of services. Find out more at