I’m on a mission to better understand the people who are seeking refuge in Australia, by hearing and sharing their stories. Two years ago, I began investigating the power we have when we share our stories and listen to other peoples’ stories by interviewing people who’d come to Australia seeking safety.
I was devastated by the stories I was hearing about refugees who’d arrived in Australia seeking safety for themselves and their children, to be greeted by racism, hatred and fear. Even more so, I was horrified when I realised that we are all capable of racism and that the only way I was going to be able to understand ‘these people’ was to meet them, shake their hand and hear their story. This was the moment I realised I needed to do something. I needed to walk around inside their skin for a moment to ensure that I too, wasn’t among the fearful, misunderstanding, accusing crowd.
So I began interviewing people; it was life changing.
…I remember the moment when I was at Saigon Square in Bankstown with Duc and Hoa – we’d just finished our interview. For the first time in my life, I was the only Anglo Saxon person in the street and could find no one who looked like me. For a moment I felt the odd loneliness of feeling like I didn’t belong because of my skin colour. I knew that I stood out. Though for many this is their daily experience, it was for me a momentary glimpse of the daily lives of those I’ve interviewed. I won’t forget it.
Because of the people I’ve met and interviewed, I can no longer read the headlines and take them as a black and white truth. The lives behind the news reports are so much richer, deeper and more valuable than the news flash often suggests. For me, the victims of headline horrors will never again be faceless, nameless numbers for whom I am sad but know nothing of.
Here are some sneak peaks into the Refugee Project….
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