By Ricky Matthew
above: Abann Yor (extreme right) with his team at ARCC. photo / Migrant News.
AUCKLAND – The ARCC (Aotearoa Resettled Community Coalition) focuses on community support services and empowering new residents and resettled communities (forced migrant experience) in New Zealand, providing access to various services and initiatives to help individuals and groups integrate into New Zealand society.
Community advocate and educator, Abann Yor, has been involved in community work with ARCC for over 18 years, and in 2014 he was made its Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
Born in Sudan, Abann’s journey began at the age of 13 when he became displaced within his own country because of the Sudan civil war. Seeking refuge, Abann and his family moved to Syria before eventually settling in New Zealand in September 2005 with a permanent resident visa.
Reflecting on his arrival, Abann described the support he received, saying, “When I arrived here, the services helped me to settle in. One of them is AUT – they give English language assistance. Health screening was at the Mangere Resettlement centre, as well as an introduction to the social welfare system and emergency services (fire, police, and ambulance).”
Upon his relocation to Auckland, Abann faced the challenges of settling into a new country as a migrant. Accessing social welfare systems and pursuing education became significant hurdles.
Recounting his early experiences, he said that the challenges at the time were accessing the social welfare system and a pathway to education. Those are the kind of services that have been a challenge.”
Despite the obstacles, Abann took ownership of his journey, stating: “I’ve been able to take ownership and responsibility to pursue a pathway to employment and education.”
To overcome these challenges, Abann enrolled for numerous qualifications in order to pursue professional development, including an Employment Skills English program at the Manukau Institute of Technology. “What that program offers you is a chance to study English while you are looking for a job.”
Sadly, Abann encountered difficulties in securing employment due to biases in the job market. He candidly expressed: “I found out that my name, being a foreigner, my appearance and my colour became a problem for me to secure a job.”
Undeterred, Abann persevered and landed his first job at a factory, followed by a position at a supply centre. His determination to support his family and contribute to the community fuelled his desire to create positive change.
“When I was studying, I identified certain needs within the community. If I’m someone who knows English and there is a challenge for me, what about my community members who don’t have the advantage of English?” This realization led him to become actively involved in the South Sudanese community, where he served as a chairperson and initiated numerous projects.
Abann’s commitment to community welfare eventually led him to the Aotearoa Resettlement Community Coalition (ARCC). Starting as a representative for the South Sudanese community, he later assumed roles such as youth coordinator, vice chair, and eventually CEO.
Under Abann’s able leadership, his organization has achieved significant progress in enhancing the well-being of new residents and resettled communities.