A MALAYSIAN asylum seeker, who found her place in Mildura, is just one artist telling her story and experience of the COVID pandemic, through art.

Rozita Abu Yamin arrived in Australia just as the clock ticked over to 2019, and two days later, travelled to Mildura where she has lived ever since.

“I came here because of the landscape, the colour of morning, sunrise, and sunset,” Ms Yamin said.

She was quickly linked in with programs offered by Sunraysia Mallee Ethnic Communities Council (SMECC) and soon found her feet including with the Mildura Riverfront Gallery.

The 43-year-old regularly showcased her paintings at the gallery and was commended for selling 14 works in a year, the most of all artists at the gallery.

Now, she has created an especially personal piece of work that will be included in the upcoming exhibition – SMECC Multicultural Arts: Our Covid Experiences.

As part of the exhibition, Sunraysia’s Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities were asked to share their own stories and what they had experienced in the past two years while living in a pandemic.

Ms Yamin said her piece Journey to Happiness was a story of hope.

Despite the success she had with her artwork sales, Ms Yamin said she continually felt anxious and sometimes struggled to leave her house, initially putting it down to trauma experienced in her past.

“The trauma always makes you not confident at all,” she said.

“I am still learning what we call ‘taking myself back’, to bring myself back to being confident.”

During one of Mildura’s many lockdowns late last year, her housemate called an ambulance when Ms Yamin felt her chest tighten and had difficulty breathing.

Doctors could not find anything physically wrong with her, but suggested she call mental health service Beyond Blue.

After speaking with the service, she started seeing a therapist, and things began to significantly improve.

“For the first time, I can share whatever is on my mind without judging,” she said.

Ms Yasmin said she put her feelings and story into her exhibition entry and now that she was getting assistance with her mental health, she was more confident to socialise within the community.

She said she was also very grateful COVID restrictions had eased.

Submissions for the exhibition close at 5pm Monday, April 4 with opening night to be held at Mildura Arts Centre on April 14.

More information can be found at smecc.org.au/community-arts or by calling 0401 663 411.

Anyone requiring urgent help can call Lifeline’s 24-hour number, 131 114. For crisis support, call Beyond Blue, 1300 224 636, headspace, 1800 650 890, or Kids Helpline, 1800 551 800.



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