What’s the price of freedom?

Mum and Dad don’t care, why should I stay…I remember as if it was bYyesterday. I packed a jumper and a few bits and pieces in a bag, I’d decided to runaway. My situation had become so desperate, I chose a life on the street over that at home.

I was 10 years old so my level of desperation may have been influenced by a severe dose of oblivion.

As I sit and write this post another boat load of asylum seekers are being rescued by Australian vessels. On board, 130 desperate individuals.

Their level of desperation shocks me. They have run away from home. Some are alone but there is also many children on board. They boarded a boat. Not a cruise ship by any stretch of the imagination, a boat. A small fishing vessel, rusted on every corner and powered only, by a small diesel engine. The first few families rush on board and more follow quickly. The main deck of the boat fills, but more people flood onto the boat.

As the boat rocks across the open seas, they’re pressed shoulder to shoulder, standing room only. Babies cry out in hunger but there’s little that can be done to help them. The crew continues on their course, a glassy stare hides their fear of an uncertain future.

Their planned destination, Australia. A country born of immigration and open to their plight. 

Seeing as though the occupants of this boat are largely Afghans, it’s assumed the boat has originated from there. They would’ve exited the Arabian Sea and crossed the equator but it’s during the final leg of their journey they’ve come unstuck.

They’ve run away from home. Looking for safety they have found the cool waters of the Indian Ocean.

Thankfully, Australian merchant ships are there now, pulling people out of the water, the Australian Navy is on its way. They have reached Australia but this isn’t the end of their journey.

In the past 12 months alone, 89 boats, and 4,700 people have made the same trip and they are in Australia but not yet free. They are being held in detention centres whilst their requests for residency is assessed.

I don’t wish to comment on Australian political decisions or the dramatic increase of asylum attempts since the change of governments, I wish to open your eyes to the desperation this group of people must have felt.

They turned their backs on their homes, history and community to roll the dice, on an over crowded fishing boat.

Please put your political opinions aside and think of the people. The common way in which they are referred in the media is “boat people” but they shouldn’t defined simply by their means of transportation. They were travelling by boat but more importantly they are people.

Yes, many of them may have queue jumped in their homeland and threw away any identification once they arrived but they did it all in desperation. Desperation by nature encourages drastic actions, in this case, illegal actions but we cannot judge them without experiencing what they have.

If your family faced death or at least a lifetime of suffering, would you risk a criminal record,  hand over your annual salary and risk your life on a sub standard vessel for a chance at freedom?

Freedom has no price.

SENSE

Leave the pain behind you

Aside

It’s 6:30 in the morning, I’m changing my daughters nappy when she suddenly starts to whimper. Being a father besotted with love for his daughter, I immediately look for the cause of her pain.

Is the warm winter sun shining through the window, too bright for her eyes? Maybe, she is that desperate to go to the park by_next door that she’s reduced to tears.

It’s then I see the cause…I can’t help but laugh when she points at a tiny graze on her knee (caused by falling over a week ago).

“saw nee, saw nee” she cries.

At that moment the graze was my daughters greatest concern. It stole her attention from her loving father, warm sunshine, last night’s sleep and the roof over her head.

How can she worry about a scratch when she is obviously blessed? Look up darling, look what surrounds you. You are surrounded by love yet you look down. Forget about the scars of yesterday, they cannot harm you. Look up in gratitude not down in despair.

Instead, I took her tiny leg in my hand and kissed it better (Caution, do not attempt to replace medical treatment with the “kissing it better” method).

My daughter is not yet two years old, so I’ll cut her some slack but we should know better. Do not let the pain of your past stop you from realising the beauty that’s all around!

What graze are you crying about in life?

Link

The scene included below is one I saw earlier this week but before you view it, let me set the scene.

The yellow building you see in the background in a Westfield shopping centre in Sydney’s CBD. This particular centre is filled with luxury branded shops including MIU MIU, Armani, Saba and Oroton. The tiles are glossy the ceilings are mirrored and the clientèle is obviously wealthy. Compare this to the man on his knees, barefoot, begging…desperate.

Shamefully, a common scene

It was a winter morning during peak hour, I stood and watched for a few minutes. City workers all seemingly in uniform, Jacket, scarf and matching scowls passed this man.

100 passed, not one stopped. 

The man had a cup out in front of him, his hands clenched together. His goal was to get enough for breakfast that morning , the 80 cents in his cup wouldn’t do. I bought him some toast and a coffee but this post isn’t about giving money to the poor or feeding those who are hungry. This post is about respect.

Out of the 100 that passed this man, I wonder how many gave him a second thought.

So the man (I wish he’d have given me his name), said a couple of people had dropped coins in his cup and that he was thankful for that but what broke my heart was that I was the first person that had spoken to him that day. I understand a lot of people have issues letting go of the money they worked hard earning but can we not spare time to say hello?

This man is homeless but he also human.

If you can’t spare some change for someone who is desperate enough to beg spare some time to speak. Tell them, you can’t spare some change but you wish them well. No one chooses to be reduced to begging for change but we can all be part of the change.

Whilst all the talk in Australia regarding the homeless is about the criteria for homeless and whether to extend that or not, I think this matter is irrelevant. One fact will always be fact, regardless of the classification criteria… the homeless and human an should be treated as such.