Mar(k): Travel, Hiking, and "Doing Good"

musings on our life of travel and volunteering

Archive for the ‘Refugees and Asylum Seekers’ Category

How being “scared of the Boogey Man” influences government policy. NOT a good thing.

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Remember how when we were young, the lights were out at bedtime, and there was always that fear of “what lurks under the bed?” Is it the Boogey Man? As we all (now) know, there IS no Boogey Man. But that fear of the unknown was very palpable, and can feel very REAL. This type of thinking seems to be informing public policy in Australia, which is really tragic. The ongoing debate about “turning back the boats” seems to smack of being scared of what (or who) we don’t know. We fear “Others”. We fear “the Unknown”. boogey man

Until these people who are fleeing persecution have a FACE, a NAME, and a STORY, we cannot seem to identify with them as fellow human beings. People who are worthy, and deserving, of our support.

This situation is something that we face everyday, as volunteers with CARAD. Both of us are doing advocacy work with detainees at the Yongah Hill Detention Centre. Recently, Yongah Hill got into the press again, as there was another death in custody on 31 July 2015. You can read about the tragic story of Mohammad Nasim Najari here.

Our current government policy makes it legal for asylum seekers to face the prospect of indefinite detention. The mental anguish that this causes has been well documented, and is such a heartless outcome for people who deserve better.

It may be easy for the politicians and bureaucrats to legislate and decide people’s futures on paper. But having to deliver the news to detainees that there are no further avenues of appeal open to them rests with someone. This week I was faced with the depressing prospect of telling a detainee at Yongah Hill that indefinite detention is his only option. That was not an easy conversation to have. And it makes us mad that it needs to be had at all.

The only way for this to change is for the public to speak up about this matter. Tell the government that is NOT okay to try and vilify asylum seekers.  Asylum Seekers are NOT the Boogey Man, and they are NOT going to hurt us. They deserve our support. It is what being a decent human being is all about.  Read more here.

We leave you with these thoughts as we head off on a trip of our own. We will be away for a few months, so you won’t hear from us on the blog for the next little while. We look forward to re-engaging with you on our return in November!


The Spirit of Generosity – alive and well!

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Hello everyone!  I am just so thrilled to share a good news story with you all, to kick off 2015.  I am entering into my second year of minimalism, which is an ongoing, dedicated journey.   To simplify my life, and allow space for the things that really matter, slowly but surely, I am getting rid of clutter, and re-homing things where possible.  One way that I do that, is through the use of ‘The Freecycle Network”.   As their home page states:

“The Freecycle Network™ is made up of 5,194 groups with 8,555,524 members around the world. It’s a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by local volunteers (them’s good people). Membership is free.”

I love it.   I have used it to both get things I need (uncommonly), as well as re-distribute things to others (commonly).  Today was such a day.  I had posted a number of items that I was getting rid of on their Facebook Page.  In very short order, I had a number of people interested in everything I had.  Great.  Then hubby came into the room, and asked if I could somehow use Freecycle to help out an asylum seeker who had recently been released from a detention centre, into the community.  This man has nothing, and one of his most pressing needs was to find a single bed to sleep on.  So I posted my request on the Facebook Freecycle Page, outlining pretty much what I have just said in this paragraph.  The response just made me so happy!   People who weren’t able to assist were “liking” my post.   And within 15 minutes, I had two offers of a bed for him, plus a kind soul who also offered a wardrobe and bedside table!   What amazingly generous people are out there!   And isn’t it great to be able to use the internet to help others!?  (NB:  Since then, there have been additional offers of beds and other goods.  Wow.)

This mattress has come to represent much more to me than just a place to rest your head at the end of the day

This mattress has come to represent much more to me than just a place to rest your head at the end of the day

Hubby had some concerns about me putting my request out there so “blatantly”  (read: honestly) as it was for an asylum seeker.   In Australia right now, the whole refugee and asylum seeker issue is such a hot topic, and has polarised many people in the community.  But I was so heartened that what I experienced was genuine concern for others, and particularly the most vulnerable people in our society.  People who have nothing, and are traumatised.   So I just had to share this good news story with you all!    Happy New Year, and may 2015 be a marvelous year for everyone.  And if you feel like you are in a position to somehow help asylum seekers and detainees in Perth, you can check out what CARAD does here.