YVES, 19, has lived in Lismore for the past three years. He is originally from the Congo.
From the age of 13 to 16, after war broke out in his homeland, he lived in a refugee camp in Kenya.
He, his brothers and sisters lost track of their parents. "If we wanted to go to school, we had to get up at five in the morning and start walking," he told The Echo.
"There was no transport. It was a long way. If we didn't get there before seven o'clock, they would close the gates and we couldn't get in."
Yves speaks with a soft African accent. English is his fourth language after Swahili, a local dialect, and French.
Other memories of life in the refugee camp still return to haunt him from time to time.
"Every week I had to go and collect food for my family from the distribution point, many miles away," he said.
"To get food for my family I would have to walk for hours in the hot sun, carrying back 25kg of food."
Hard times for a young teenager. But then something almost miraculous happened.
The plight of Yves and his brothers and sisters came to the attention of Sanctuary Northern Rivers, the Lismore-based organisation that helps refugees come legally to Australia, assists with the paperwork and when they arrive, settles them in to houses, schools and jobs in Lismore and helps them become part of our community.
"When I first came here, I thought Lismore was pretty boring," he confessed.
"But when I compare how it is for us in Lismore with how it is for our brothers and sisters in the big cities who find it hard to connect with their communities, I feel we are very lucky.
"Now I know that I am part of a good community."
But it's not all plain sailing for Sanctuary Northern Rivers.
Sanctuary spokesman Michael Douglas told The Echo that while Lismore is an "incredibly welcoming - outstanding" community for African refugees, the work of the charity has been slowed down by a Department of Immigration that is more focussed on onshore arrivals - asylum seekers - than offshore refugees.
"We're somewhat constrained by the inflow," he explained.
"We still have many requests for support, but now the national success rate for acceptance of refugees from Africa is very slow.
"Offshore arrivals are much less likely to be successful. We've had no success for the past 21 months."
Mr Douglas said the Lismore community had created a very successful model of refugee intake and settlement process, with Sanctuary volunteers helping new arrivals to connect with the community from the day they arrive.
"It's most important that we keep on advocating for fair and just refugee policy at government level," he said.
"We need to place oursleves in the shoes of refugees seeking opportunity in life.
"The theme for this week's World Refugee Day is Restoring Hope - and that is just what we need to do."
Wednesday, June 20: World Refugee Day. Congolese community members will prepare lunch for the homeless at the Winsome Hotel for lunch and a sing a special song.
Thursday, June 21, (morning): Congolese community will share stories about Africa at the First Steps Pre-school.
Evening: Public invited for informal discussions with African community members and Sanctuary volunteers at the Lismore Library at 6.30pm. All welcome.
Saturday, June 23: Major event will be held at Lismore City Hall, with shared meal of African food, stories, songs, dances and poetry readings leading into the Lantern Parade. Refugees have made lanterns to carry in the parade. Everyone's invited.