Lake Macquarie resident Fulgence Mbonimpa was one of 40 new citizens who celebrated becoming Australians during a ceremony at Rathmines Theatre today.
Moving from his native Burundi, a small landlocked country in East Africa, Mr Mbonimpa spent many years in a refugee camp, before settling in Australia and studying landscaping and garden care.
He has now started his own business based in Gateshead and lives locally with his family.
“I’m very proud today to become an Australian citizen,” Mr Mbonimpa said.
“It has been a long journey, but I am looking forward to being with my family and growing my business.
“When I first moved to the refugee camp there was nothing, we had to build houses and roads, it was a very difficult time. I feel very lucky to live in Australia with my family.”
Lake Macquarie’s 2021 Citizenship Ceremony also included new Australians from countries such as the UK, Bangladesh, New Zealand, Russia, France, Vietnam, Lithuania, Israel, USA and India, to name just a few.
Mayor Kay Fraser said it was always a joy to welcome new citizens, especially on Australia Day.
“It is such a privilege for me to share this special day with our new Aussies,” she said.
“Rathmines, on the shores of beautiful Lake Macquarie, was just beaming with smiling faces and it was great to see families joining in on the COVIDSafe celebration.
“Becoming an Australian citizen is much more than just a formality for a lot of people. It’s an acceptance of our way of life and everything Australia has to offer.
“Welcoming people from all walks of life and all corners of the globe to Lake Macquarie enriches our community and makes us who we are today. We are proud of our diversity and of the welcoming nature of our city.”