STARTTS offers a new beginning 

LAST week STARTTS (Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors) celebrated its 25th anniversary.

And one person who knows what is like to have a fresh start is Maisoon Samir Yalda.

The Fairfield resident emigrated from Iraq six years ago to find a better life for her and her family.

"We came here because my father was a doctor and was kidnapped," she said.

"Even though we paid the money [ransom] they still killed him.

"It was then that I knew we had to go.

"We spent two years in a camp in Syria and then we came here as refugees.

"I have faith in my heart and I am grateful to be able to now live safely."

When Mrs Yalda arrived in Australia she had to learn to speak English and adjust to a different culture.

She said that was why she decided to dedicate her life to helping others who immigrate here.

She is now a STARTTS facilitator, a Justice of the Peace, a teacher's aid and vice-president of the Fairfield Public School P&C committee.

"I could not have done this without the help of STARTTS," she said. "I want to help the community by furthering my studies and helping any new arrivals.

"I was born again when I moved here and I am very happy."

More than 1000 people attended the 25th anniversary event for STARTTS at the Imperial Paradiso Room in Fairfield.

Mrs Yalda said that during the event there was a lot of people wearing their traditional costumes.

"There was also special Iraqi and Iranian performances and African drumming," she said.

"It was a great day and I met up with a lot of my friends."

There are more than 140 STARTTS staff and many have a refugee background.

They offer services that include counselling, group therapy, programs for children and young people, community development activities and physiotherapy.

Details: startts.org.au.

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