Monday, 16 April 2012

it's a long time since i wrote two posts in two days

and i am pumped that i can!
i went to the detention centre yesterday, which is generally just called "villawood" after the suburb it is located in.
it was my first solo visit and i was really pleased with it. while i waited in the reception area for my security processing one of the guys i intended to visit walked in! off the street! he was going in as a visitor after being moved to independent (or semi independent) housing. it was delightful to see him a step closer to real freedom after 31 months in detention.
we went behind bars and met his friend and countryman, who i also know. instead of going inside the noisy common room i sat at a picnic table with these guys and chatted for a good while. detainees are always polite and thankful for a visit but sometimes i feel tolerated rather than welcomed and i cant complain about that, i can also tolerate rather than welcome people who appear unexpectedly. this time though, it felt good, i felt like a friend and my almost-free friend offered and made me coffee. at t hat point i felt like i had "made it" he wasnt tolerating me, he was hosting me. i doubt that i have ever before been so deeply touched by a cup of bad instant coffee in an even worse foam cup :)
around this time i bumped into a young afghani i had met once before. (i'll call him ali) i hadnt got ali's name and wasnt able to ask for him so i was pleased to see him, especially because he is expecting release at any time and if that had happened he would have disappeared into the ether.
ali introduced me to another afghani, a man with a beautiful light about him and i dont think it was just his sparkly eyes or my appreciation for a nice dimple. this man left a wife and five children in pakistan two years ago, came to australia on a boat and is waiting for processing.

this guy was not the depressed and angry man that they become after years of detention, he was gracious about his situation, grateful that australia is careful about who crosses our borders, acknowledging that nobody asked him to come here, appreciative of his wife who is holding the family together as a single parent in a tough place.

this man, at 35, surpasses many double his age for grace and equanimity. it is unfortunate that he and those like him, are demonised by politicians and popular media because they have so very much to offer and as he said, a day in detention is worth a year of normal life for producing growth in a person.

the very first detainee i ever met, maker of a mean curry, Ramees' visa has been approved and here he is, celebrating greek easter as a free man


  1. How remarkable that the Afghani was so gracious about being cooped up in a detention centre waiting to be "processed" and can see the point of view of those who don't want to let people in too easily. Sounds like the sort of guy the country could do with.

  2. Kia ora Kylie,
    I get the feeling those men see that same light and countenance upon you. Rave On! Kia kaha.

  3. That was a lovely post.
    I worry so much about the people in Villawood. And the attitude of the mass media and their influence on our politicians makes me very, very angry.
    Thank you for showing us the gracious attitude held by at least one detainee. May he be released into the community SOON.

  4. nick,
    that was my point exactly but somehow it got lost between my brain and the keyboard :)

    thats an amazing compliment! thank you :)

    lets hope the parliamentary enquiry recommending a 90 day detention limit starts to have an effect!

  5. Agree with all the folks comments entirely .... hallelijah!

  6. What a sweet post, Kyle. Yet there's something to be said against diversity as well as in its favor, especially when diversity involves members of a religion that is currently causing such an abundance of suffering. Just look at France, for example.

  7. P.S. I loved the wonderful--even nurturing--picture too, and please understand that my reservation isn't against your friends, but against the religion that they represent.

  8. snow,
    when i talk about this subject i always feel slightly fraudulent because i have reservations too. i dont particularly want the gates thrown open but these guys are here already and languishing and some of them are actually without a state to return to even if they wanted to so i go and try to bridge gaps and hope that with becoming educated and seeing these people as actual people rather than "asylum seekers" i can maybe change my part of the world.

  9. Kylie, I wholeheartedly support you helping these guys, and I agree with you that's it's cruel to keep them in limbo for years. I guess the government must think that such treatment will discourage others, but the fact that they still come despite it all says a lot about how desperate they must be.

  10. That was a beautiful post Kylie, it brought a tear to my eye and I again hold you up as a true and honestly generous person, rather than just professing to be.
    I would be grateful if someone as friendly and lovely as you gave up their time to visit them in their lowest of times.
    Hope you and family are well..
    Fee xo

  11. hey megan,
    i go and visit at the immigration detention centre every week or two. it's full of asylum seekers and people waiting for deportation.

    Thank you! cheque's in the mail :)
    Hows things?

  12. It's such a difficult thing.I don't condone illegal immigration but I don't see why processing people who have risked everything takes such a long time. Very pleased for your Afghan friend


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