Did you know the Tamils fought alongside the ANZAC’s at Gallipoli? I attended my first Tamil ANZAC service a few years ago and was very moved by the spirit of ANZAC being so richly acknowledged in the Tamil community. This year I once again had the privilege to attend this function. It embraced the Christian, Islamic and Hindu religion. The reading of Psalm 23 by a young Tamil man was breathtaking and the Australian Anthem was sung beautifully (including the second verse) . Siva, a member of Ocean 12 Cricket Team lay a wreath alongside various dignitaries. There were about 300 people at the service. This was followed by the cricket game between Ocean 12 and the Navy.
Seven weeks ago we started our third term of the asylum seeker swimming program. Each week this very enthusiastic group of youngsters with their mums and dads arrive at the Blacktown Aquatic Centre for their “extended “ swimming lesson. These lessons are thanks to BMRSG supporters and the terrific volunteers.
The joy of giving and the satisfaction of being involved in a worthwhile project coincided recently. Chris Cather and Hugh Clarke, Year 9 students at Blaxland High School, helped prevent a much loved but ageing Nissan Pulsar from going to the wreckers and instead turned it into a treasure for a low income refugee. Chris and Hugh together with teacher Shaun Halden, grabbed the opportunity to give the car a new life. This was exactly what Sarah Emerson and her son, Owen, had in mind when they gifted the car to Blaxland High School for use in the Metal and Automotive program for Years 9 and 10
In this the 3rd year of the Youth Shoebox Project even more were received. More than 203 were delivered to children and young people seeking refuge and asylum. This project is a joint effort with Mountains Youth Services Team (MYST) and Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group (BMRSG) - working together to spread love and support.
Mountain Activist off to Bourke Bourke has gained a treasure, while the Blue Mountains, especially the Refugee Support Group Detention Centre visiting team, have lost Kath Sneddon, one of their great stalwarts. Refugees in Sydney have lost a great advocate. Kath’s cheerful energy has lightened many a depressing day at the Villawood Detention Centre while her home cooking and great free range stuffed eggs were a great favourite with home sick refugees stuck in indefinite detention – until Minister Dutton’s Border Force decided home cooked food was a security risk!
Every Tuesday 14 asylum seeker children arrive at Blacktown Aquatic Centre for their swimming lesson. It’s such a happy day for everyone. Not only are the children taking part in the Aus Swim program they are enjoying the social interaction with each other. This program is thanks to the donations of all those through Local Hero.
So, such great news. Aiesha called and was so overwhelmed by the news. She kept saying “Thank you, thank you” - crying at times – “We couldn’t have achieved this without your Group’s help”. Wonderful news! A couple with two children applied for a Safe Haven Enterprise Visa (SHEV) and BMRSG assisted them with their legal costs. They were terrified of being deported back to danger. They had their interview with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection about five weeks ago and today they received a letter saying that their application had been approved.
Asylum Seeker ‘Moz’ releases song recorded in Manus Island detention centre Kurdish refugee Mostafa ‘Moz’ Azimitabar today released a music video and song he recorded from his detention on Manus Island. Moz, 31, has been detained for four years. The vocals for his song – “All the Same” – were recorded on a mobile phone and, with the footage; found their way out of Manus to artists in Australia. In the clip, Moz sings into the camera, surrounded by tall wire fences, and implores all Australians to “help us keep our sanity, remember our humanity.” Moz said the song was created to bring attention to the plight of himself and other refugees. “We have been left in political limbo for four years now. The conditions are hellish and how they treat us is deplorable. I hope people who are listening to my song will understand our desperation, frustration and fear,” he said.
On Anzac Day 2017, Ocean12 Cricket Team and Australian Navy Cricket Team had a wonderful encounter at Darling Street Park Cricket Ground. On this memorable day, in their inaugural match, both teams played in a friendly environment. Before the cricket match Ocean 12 and members of the Tamil community attended an ANZAC ceremony at Wenty Leagues where Ocean12 skipper Suthakar respectfully placed a wreath.
Ever wondered just where BMRSG spends the most welcome donated money. Let me share a story with you. In November last year Tavam's children were attending the swimming school we were running. Tavam accompanied the children and in this delightful non-threatening environment Tavam told me about his well-worn boots. They were issued in detention years ago and have been his only footwear . These are not ordinary boots but boots with specialist built up sole on one shoe.