Emmanuel Musoni is on a mission to return his people to their agricultural roots.
And he is reaching out to farmers in the Armidale region to find a suitable home for established refugee families.
More than 200 skilled farming families, most with generations of experience working the land in central Africa, want to relocate from major Australian cities to regional areas like the New England.
Many have come from areas with a similar agricultural character to the Northern Tablelands.
Four families have already relocated into the small town of Mingoola, 50 kilometres west of Tenterfield, in a move that has rejuvenated the community.
On Monday, Mr Musoni, who represents the families, met with local refugee advocates in Armidale to discuss the New England as possible resettlement locations.
“The key issue among our community is that a big number of them want to live in a rural areas because they feel they have roots that touch the land,” he said.
“They miss that agricultural life, to be on the land, having animals, growing crops, … and also giving to the community.”
The families are looking for farm cottages and small blocks of land in rural areas outside main regional centres like Armidale, Glen Innes and Tamworth.
Most of the families are already Australian citizens and have lived in Australia for many years.
Sanctuary Humanitarian Settlement Council liaison Robyn Jones said the Armdiale region was a perfect location to resettle refugees.
“We have all aspect of support,” she said.
“And we have ongoing employment at the tomato farm.
“We have government contracted services, trauma counselling, settlement services, a refugee nurse, a homework centre, and in addition, we have a community that is multicultural.”
The agency wants to move families in small groups so they can support each other.
And they are seeking locations like Mingoola where a small community would welcome new arrivals.
“We can’t move all the families at once ... but we want families to move in small groups,” Mr Musoni said.
“Being in the same vicinity helps them support each other.”
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