Friday, June 13, 2008

Please help Etienne

Hi fans of Vox Congo,

It's been a while since i posted you an update. Papy and Martinse are enjoying full residency here in Australia which is fantastic and they thank you all so much for your love and active support.

Etienne and Adolphe however still fight for the right to stay in Australia and are currently still seeking asylum under a bridging visa which they have to re-apply for every 2 months. their immigration officer has been very supportive of them and their situation as they suffer let down after let down.

Recently they have been told by Australian immigration that they are classed as persons with no state, that is their country of origin won't recognize them and Australia have also rejected them. One major problem here is that in the 7 years they have been here wading through bureaucratictape and many application and appeals processes, their passports have expired and the Democratic Republic of the Congo refuse to co-operate with Australian immigration to issue new passports so Australian immigration have informed them that they are stuck here. yet they have no right of residency, no Medicare, no government financial support, etc. They essentially live off charity.

After talking with Etienne and Adolphe, and their immigration officer I have decided to help by co-ordinating a letter writing campaign to gather as much community support as possible to show our government that they are loved and wanted in our country. At the moment Etienne is the one we are writting letters for as they are both on different time lines.

I have hosted 2 documents on our church websites for those who want to jump on board and show they support. My aim is to get 1000 letters for Etienne. Check the links below.

Write a personal charachter reference letter for Etienne

Use this general letter as a petition to gather as many signatures as possible

For this letter writing campaign we are appealing to the Minister for Immigration to exersice his power with compassion to overturn a previous ruling to reject Etienne's application for asylum.

Please post your messages of support here and I will pass them on. Download the PDF files above and send your responses to me by the end of june if possible.

Thanks, Mark Riessen
for Vox Congo

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Martinse makes it!

I invite you to celebrate with me friends once more as I have tears in my eyes yet again (what a sook).Martinse Kanda member of Vox Congo (the little shy guy who plays Rhythm and drums) is now a permanent resident in Australia as of today when he received his letter in the mail. This news comes 6 months after Papy received his full residency. This is a huge celebration for Vox Congo and testimony to their faith. I have developed a very close relationship with these 4 guys since they arrived in Melbourne in 2002 and have seen the many heart breaks and disappointments time after time as they we’re told they couldn’t stay, they were told they were non-persons and even their closest advisors told them there was no hope.

Not once did their spirit or faith falter under the pressure. Depression lured many times but their faith and hope lifted them. Martinse and Carmen as well as the rest of the guys have asked me to thankyou all for your tireless support and for never giving up on them. Thankyou for you letters, petitions, friendship, showing up at concerts, your meals, clothing, financial support and a roof over their heads. Often we don’t get to see the impact we can have in lives or hear the good news stories, well here they are, a testimony to your efforts in standing by the neglected and the cast aside in their time of need. Well done.

We ask for your continued prayer and support for Etienne (band leader) and Adolphe (the unforgettable Bass player). I had a series of meetings with them in November last year and they were not traveling well. They miss family, they are feeling lost and confused, yet they still have great hope. I am concerned for my friends and I ask that you please stay with them in prayer and support. After their visit to Adelaide in November I was at a wedding with them in Melbourne and Etienne asked if I could launch an appeal for him and Adolphe to the new immigration minister. Asylum seekers and refugees have a new found hope in our new government who seems to know the meaning of compassion based on recent actions like the release of the prisoners (unlawfully detained refugees) from Naru.

I will be in touch with you when I have something put together which will include information and format on how to write to the minister for immigration. If anyone would like to help me with this I would be grateful. I am still a learner. I will be relentless and will not give up until each member of Vox Congo are heard and have received residency in Australia.Until then please share this message through your networks as I don’t have contact with everyone who wants to be kept up to date on Vox Congo.

Mark Riessen

P.S. Please do not take it upon yourselves to write to the minister for immigration, this could make life harder the guys. I had an encouraging conversation with a friend who said Amnesty International are interested in their case. If this is so, we won't need to rally support for them, Amnesty will appeal the minister internally. However I will keep you posted through this blog on any changes

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Vox Congo on myspace

Hi Vox Congo fans,

It's been a while since I posted on this blog and that's because I've been working on Vox Congo's myspace. check it out. You can listen to their music online, add it to your myspace music, add them as a friend, post a comment to rncourage them, it's great!

There is also some exciting news posted on the myspace. Papy just received his permanent redidency in Australia!!! How exciting is that not only for Papy but for the other 3 guys. Go and read the story and post your comments of engcouragement.

Keep in touch with Vox Congo through their myspace.