September 3 2015
I have had the privilege of working with many refugee communities in Australia and hearing first hand, stories of the courage of people who’d fled persecution and war. People who put their lives on the line for others, for a principle or a cause; people who just wanted to live a life of dignity. And while hurt by their experience, they embraced their new home and generously shared their lives and stories with people like me.
Like many, I was horrified by the heartbreaking stories of Syrian refugees trying to reach Western Europe, and their inhumane treatment both by smugglers and some European countries. The distressing story this morning about toddler Aylan Kurdi who was found on the Turkish coast will always haunt and shame me about the climate of fear I live in. A fear that is the result of western privilege. It doesn’t matter that the stories are now about people trying to reach Europe. So many of us in the west are living in countries which have acted scandalously on this issue.
I am reminded of some of the stories I had the privilege to record over the years and how they should be heard, read again and repeated so that we don’t forget what a terrible lottery life is. Below is an excerpt from a collaborative radio piece I produced as part of the cultural development program of the Sydney based Information and Cultural Exchange (ICE) and the ABC’s Poetica program on Radio National.
You will hear the voice of Afeif Ismail from Sudan describe the horror of Dafur in incandescently quiet language not easily forgotten. Afeif speaks in Arabic, and Vivienne Glance reads the translation.
The full program can be heard here.