Tuesday, May 8, 2012

how can you describe this feeling?

I cry less than 10 times a year but right now I am crying. Its not really a sad cry, its a happy cry its this overwhelming impossible to even comprehend the emotions I am feeling right now cry.

Its a good kind of crying.

Today I said goodbye to some of the aslyum seekers/ refugees I have been visiting @ Wickham Point, they got their bridging visas and have been released into the wild of Australia. Its not going to be an easy ride for them but the hardest parts are over. They have left their homes, been seperated from loved ones, crossed oceans and lived in Australian made prisons with no answers about their futures, no certainty with their lives. They are not criminals but have been through much worse as if they were. They are some of the strongest people I know and today at the airport seeing the smiles on their faces it brought a smile to my own.

Now they have a chance.

Ahmed is 21 years old from Iraq he has been there every week I visit since the beginning quietly sitting in the corner. Smiling when you say hi to him with a sleepy look on his face. His english is limited, he barely interacts. But every day he comes. One day he didn't come to a visit and I asked his brother where he was. He told me he was sleeping. I know that in the detention centres day in day out they are left with no answers as to why they are treated like criminal when they have not done anything wrong. I know the fact that every day is the same spirals them into depression and they sleep through the only good things. So that day I didn't see Ahmed I was sad because for someone so young to go through so much didn't deserve to finally reach the safe shores of Australia and be treated like he was. He deserved more. I wanted to be there for him and let him know how I respected & cared for him but in the two hours of the week we were in the same room it can be difficult to express that. Especially when the language barrier hindered us.

Now he was free.

At the airport when I saw him the smile on his face was undescribable in how it moved me. He walked towards me and we hugged. And we were outside in public without the walls of the serco prison. Now this time I hugged him I would be saying goodbye as he started the rest of his life as any normal 21 year old should be allowed to do. I asked him what he wanted to do when he got to Sydney, he wanted to have whisky and to go to the disco. I smiled, inside the centre its easy to forget sometimes how normal they are.

Later I sat and chatted with his brother on a chair & he knelt in front of me, he grabbed Hussin to interpret him and began to speak quickly in Arabic. Despite not understanding him I could feel and see that what he was saying was so emotional for him.
Hussin told me
"He says you are his sister that you are part of his family"
"He says thank you for everything because you helped him so much and he will never forget you"
His eyes were red, mine almost were too. The moment was so hallmark I felt like I was in a mid day movie. Queue bad music now.

I could only do one thing and hug him again.

"Thank-you Ahmed" I whispered to him.

The feeling I felt when I left the airport, when I cried at my computer desk at work, the feeling I feel when I write this down it can't be described. I want to express everything. I want people to realise that you can make this difference in somebodies life. That what I do helps me as much as it helps them. That its hard for me to remember a time I felt this kind of happy. I know I am involved with many charities but they never made me feel like anything I did really changed anything. They made me happy that I was involved and doing something good with my life but they didn't impact me like Ahmeds speech did today. When I think about that I have been visiting less than two months and already my entire world has been turned upside down I can't imagine my life before meeting these guys, hearing their stories. As my friend mentioned to me earlier today I've never been ignorant or racist in my past I'm one of the most accepting people he knows but never have I been more aware.
The guys began as people I just wanted to help and they ended as my family. I will stay in contact with them and visit them when I can. I pray to everything I can that their lives are good now. I underestimated the power they would have over me but I thankful that I was offered this chance.

I will never forget today and how I felt with Ahmed beside me. There will be more refugees & I will be there with them. I will get attached, make friends, cry when they leave but I will always remember this day  above all others. Strong words spoken from the heart of someone so young that really found its place inside me.

I can't describe this feeling, but know that it blows awesome to a new galaxy.


Jem said...

Thank you for writing this moving account of the time you spent visiting detainees.

Jem said...
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