Zara’s House and Sister Diana Santleben

Zara’s House and Sister Diana Santleben

Located at 45 Mordue Parade Jesmond, Zara’s House provides a centre for refugee women and children in easy walking distance from the homes of many refugee families.

Zara’s House has become a place of welcome and friendship development between recently arrived families and the established Newcastle community. It is where children and babies are safe and nurtured while their mothers can get on with their own activities.

Here Syrian, Afghani and African refugee women learn English in informal settings, develop literacy competence in their mother tongue and have women’s health workshops. They also do handcrafts and sewing, and make jam and chutneys for sale.

The experience at Zara’s House empowers the women to grasp micro-business preparation skills and social information sharing. They develop a sense of respect and confidence in a growing independence.

Zara’s House is a project of our member Hunter Refugees and Partners. Several of the refugee youth that are associated with Refugees and Partners have been supported in their studies through MSN educational scholarships. This has boosted their enthusiasm to persevere with their studies and take pride in their achievements.

For her work Sister Di was recognised as 2017 Newcastle's Citizen of the Year. She is shown receiving her award from Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes at Newcastle City Hall.

“When asked how she intended to use her ‘Citizen of the Year’ award, Sister Di said she would encourage all women in Newcastle to drop in and meet with female refugees at Zara’s House, the support centre she helped establish last year.” (Taken from http://www.theherald.com.au/story/4428719/australians-all-rejoicing/)