Rashidi Sumaili is a dynamic and inspirational African-Australian leader who has been working hard to make a difference in his local community and advocate for new and emerging communities in general and African migrants and refugees in particular. Born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Rashidi arrived in Australia in 2005 and settled in Shepparton Victoria, as part of the Regional Resettlement Program initiated by the federal government to settle refugees in regional areas across Australia.
Rashidi says: “I was born and grew up in a Christian family. The faith, values and vision of Christian teachings have inspired me to be focused on social justice and facilitate positive change in the community. My family and other Congolese families have received a great deal of support from the Shepparton community, both from different service providers, faith based organisations such as the Catholic church and others, as well as general members of the community. I see it as a duty of mine to give something back to the community”
Over the years, Rashidi’s community work has involved managing different projects and working with different organisations to assist people in his community, especially young Africans. He is currently working with Future Voices Inc. as a project manager and he says he is “keen to use the leadership skills learnt over the years, collaborate with others and seek mentorship and coaching opportunities from more experienced leaders to be able to help the less fortunate members of the community”
Rashidi with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop
Rashidi’s work goes beyond his local Shepparton Community. Being aware of his roots and knowing the issues affecting communities in Eastern DRC, Rashidi has also been involved in projects to help people back in Africa. He started the first Lions Club in the district of Fizi, in Eastern DRC, in collaboration with the Shepparton Lions Club in Australia. He also collaborated with other partners to start an agricultural college in Fizi to teach improved agricultural methods to farmers and the local population. Rashidi says he is proud of his work and even more determined to do more to help bring positive change in the communities back in his home country, as well as in Australia.
Two years ago, Rashidi initiated the Building A New Generation Youth project, working with young people across all migrant communities in the Greater Shepparton area. The successful project provided leadership skills and mentorship and coaching opportunities to over a dozen youths from a refugee background. The young participants travelled around Australia to meet and learn from political leaders, members of the diplomatic corps, social pioneers and entrepreneurs.
Rashidi at his local community in Shepparton
Rashidi has won several awards for his work in the community. Last year he received the “Regional Community builder of the Year” award as part of the National African Australia Persons Of The Year (NAPOTY) 2015 award program organised by Africa Media Australia. Rashidi was also recognised by Celebrate African–Australians Inc. as one of the 100 most influential African-Australians, at an awards ceremony held at Sydney’s Oprah house in 2012. On 17 July 2010, Rashidi was recognised by the State of Victoria in the Victorian Refugee Recognition Award.
Rashid is a boarder member of the Regional Information and Advocacy Council and a former member of The Fairley leadership Program. He is a true community champion who deserves recognition for his dedication to helping others, despite the many challenges that he is facing at a personal level to raise his own raise his own family and and live successfully in Australia.