March 10th is a day of great significance for all Tibetans around the world. It is the day on which they gather to mark the anniversary of the Tibetan Uprising in 1959 when, after 10 years of Chinese occupation of Tibet, Tibetans rose up in opposition. 10th March 2020 is the 61st Anniversary of Tibetan National Uprising Day. The Blue Mountains City Council has for some years hosted a Flag Raising Ceremony and the flying of the Tibetan Flag outside the Council Chambers in our Peace Park.
A house full of single men cut off from their families is not always the most serene of places. A house in Liverpool was one such place, full of Tamil men from Sri Lanka and living now very far from home. No mothers, no fathers, no children, and no wives, and this not by any real choice of their own. Many of the young men in this house had Australian residency, but without citizenship they cannot bring their families over to join them.
Two young men, both left their home countries aged 3. Both now call the Blue Mountains home and are part of the BMRSG community. But two very different stories. Read part 2 in our series Who Are We?
Behrouz Boochani, the Kurdish Iranian journalist and award winning autho, discussed his recently published memoir No Friend But the Mountain: Writing From Manus Prison at the Wentworth Falls School of Performing Arts last Saturday. Mr. Boochani fled from Iran to seek refuge in Australia but was instead sent to offshore detention on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea. Mr. Boochani is a vocal advocate for Kurdish people and all refugees and asylum seekers. Mr. Boochani Skyped in from East Lorengu, the refugee accommodation on Manus Island where he currently resides, and received a standing ovation from audience members, before talking about his memoir and his time in detention.
Refugee students from Miller Technology High in Cabramatta, Sydney, shared their life stories in a Tree of Life performance for Katoomba High School on Wednesday 19 June. The students, from war-torn Iraq and Syria, were part of Parramatta’s Treehouse Theatre that provides a platform for young refugees to act out their stories of plight. The young refugees, aged between 12 and 17, performed in front of 700 Katoomba High School students and their teachers. None of them had been in Australia longer than 2 years, with one arriving only 8 months ago.
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
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.
Our very own Youth Shoebox Project kicks off for the second year to give a warm Blue Mountains welcome to children and young people seeking refuge and asylum in Australia. Go to their Facebook page Youth Shoebox Project to find out how you can be part of this great initiative.