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asylum seeker resource centre x olana janfa

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Want to help out refugees while getting your hands on some arty merch? Look no further. The very friendly folks at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) have dropped a collection of merch featuring the colourful work of Melbourne artist Olana Janfa. The range includes tote bags, tea towels, puzzles and clothing for adults, kids and even four-legged chums, with all proceeds from sales being used to support asylum seekers.

Olana grew up in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and sought asylum in Norway as a teen. He moved to Australia in 2015 and, after a few years, taught himself how to paint as a way to reconnect with his culture. It’s safe to say that the super-talented artist has been killing it ever since – exhibiting work in galleries, partnering up with the City of Melbourne, NGV and Melbourne Fashion Week, and collaborating with local fashion label Obus.

For his collab with the ASRC, Olana has created joy-inducing artwork that depicts a bus of refugees who are making their way to a new country. He titled the work ‘Journey to Freedom.’ “When you leave your home, you leave so much behind, but the things that you can take – memories, hope, faith, culture, dreams – are what keep you going and stay with you always,” Olana says.

“As a refugee, it is not easy coming to a new country. You don’t know the culture, the language, or the way things work. That is why I am happy to support the ASRC. They make refugees feel welcome and, in my experience, that is the greatest gift you can give to someone.”

Second Stitch, a rad social enterprise that empowers women from diverse backgrounds through textiles, has also helped bring the collab to life by cutting and sewing the merch. Pretty neat, huh? If you’d like to nab some for a pal (or yourself), head right this way.