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NZ businessman to talk about near-death refugee experiences



Auckland – A leading New Zealand tech businessman and a former refugee, Mitchell Pham, will deliver a speech in Auckland tonight as part of World Refugee Day.

Pham runs the Augen Software Group and is chair of NZTech and Fintech NZ. He is a trustee of the Auckland Refugee Family Trust (ARFT) which has helped settle 116 people in Auckland over the last five years. The families have come from Afghanistan, Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iraq, Myanmar, Pakistan, Somalia and Uganda.

Pham will be a speaker at the ARFT and New Zealand Red Cross art exhibition and charity fundraising event in Devonport, Auckland, tonight.

“As a former refugee, this world refugee day has special significance to me personally. I will be speaking tonight about my refugee journey story.

“I was one of the small percentage of people who were fortunate enough to have successfully get out of Vietnam during the 1980s, survived several near-death experiences crossing the South China Sea and two perilous years in four refugee camps in Indonesia. I resettled in the best country on earth, received world-class education here and established my life in New Zealand.

“I have built a business career in an industry – technology – that is now the fastest growing globally. I have reconnected with my immediate family after 13 years apart. I have expanded my Kiwi technology group back into Vietnam to support the growth of New Zealand businesses and creation of opportunities for both countries. I have established my own family and reunited with my siblings in Auckland living apart for 30 years.

“That’s a lot of lucky stars to count in a row. But 30 years is a very long time – way too long – to wait to reunite with one’s immediate family. So, in 2012, I co-founded the Auckland Refugee Family Trust to help refugees who, out of circumstance, desperately need assistance in reuniting with their families in New Zealand.

“Worldwide, tens of millions of people have been displaced because of conflict, persecution, famine, economic or natural disasters. Many do not survive the journey to safety and resettlement.

“When refugees who have resettled in New Zealand are given entry visas for the remaining members of their immediate families to reunite with them, these one-time-only visas are valid for two years during which time their family members must arrive in the country.

“Many refugees who are newly resettled in Auckland cannot generate the financial means to fund the relocation of their loved ones who are still in refugee camps or danger zones. This is where ARFT plays a role in helping the most desperate families whose visas are soon to expire.

“When new Kiwis stop worrying desperately about family members still living in precarious situations overseas, we start contributing to New Zealand much sooner,” he says.

For further information contact Make Lemonade editor-in-chief Kip Brook

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