Tag Archive: story


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“The idea that we live life in a straight line, like a story, seems to me to be increasingly absurd and, more than anything, a kind of intellectual convenience. I feel that the events in our lives are like a series of bells being struck and the vibrations spread outwards, affecting everything, our present, and our futures, of course, but our past as well. Everything is changing and vibrating and in flux.” 

 

In a rare interview since the death of his 15-year-old son, the singer reveals his struggle to write and reconnect with the world after the tragedy.

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You can buy artworks by Abbas Al Aboudi here. Abbas does original works or can replicate your favourite photo… Below is a bit about Aboudi’s life and where this image came from. I asked for a copy of this, an image previously painted, because living through these times I wanted to capture something by asylum seekers for asylum seekers that speaks in their own voice to their own experience of these times. Also, because something of the image speaks to my own journey of starting to write/find my voice.

Painting a lifeline

Turning to art in desperation, he has discovered a way of processing the trauma and depression that threatened to engulf him. Exhibiting daring colour sense, he creates works that are fresh and haunting. One picture shows Aboudi′s handcuffed hands holding a pencil and references the humiliation he experienced while still a resident of the camp.

An Australian refugee advocate had sent him some painting supplies. When he went to pick them up from the parcel delivery centre, the camp guards would not let him back in with them. His pleas falling on deaf ears, Aboudi was at least able to secrete his supplies in a hiding place outside the camp. Later a sympathetic guard helped him smuggle them in. Others depict the despair and hopelessness which is the daily bread of asylum seekers on Nauru. Most of the refugees, including Al Aboudi, can’t return to their countries of origin for fear of persecution and Australia doesn’t allow any refugees into the country who arrived by boat post-July 2013. For many, the future looks bleak.

A glimmer of hope

Al Aboudi, who recently celebrated his twenty-eighth birthday in austere conditions, cracks a shy smile. About a month ago, he was asked by the contracting company that runs the Nauru detention centre whether he would like to be resettled in the United States. Three hours of thorough vetting and several weeks later and still no word.

All Abbas Al Aboudi can do is paint and hope.

My Art is My Saviour, Qantara.de, March 2017

Demonstrators in Australia held paintings by Alaboudi in August this year [2016] during nationwide protests urging the government to end offshore detention of refugees.

Alaboudi was heartened by this use of his canvases, which depict the conditions faced by refugees, such as a child behind bars and a portrait of Omid Masoumali, an Iranian who burnt himself alive on Nauru in May.

The Madness is Eating Us Alive, South China Morning Post, Oct 2016

 

 

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Per my previous post, I delayed longer than I usually might to write this up because I’ve struggled to digest and know how to respond to all I heard… I still don’t really know how to respond I think I need to trust to that unfolding, and in the meantime, for whatever it’s worth, this is some of what was in my head and heart as I left the forum…

 

I walk away cognisant of all the ways I get to walk away… the river waters’ shimmer seems more beautiful, the air more sweet, the clouds and sky more open – I see and see again the freedom that I have like a fish coming to awareness of water and knowing it for what sustains me.  If freedom is like oxygen then we are suffocating these people.

We know. Australians know. The nurses know. The guards know. The psychiatrists know. The teachers know. The politicians know. The High Court knows. The UN knows… and the asylum seekers ask: how can they know but nothing has changed? 

 

risky journey in the deep water
carried lots of dream seeds with me
but now, dream seeds I have none

replaced my name with a number
please, please, call my name

risky journey in the deep water
save their life in the deep water
but killing them on arid land

replaced my name with a number
please, please, call my name

risky journey in the deep water

call us we are your neighbours
call us we are your friends
please, call us by our names

don’t want to leave our country
if we can but live free
please, call us by our names


 

“What can I do?” asks the nurse
“What can I do?” asks the doctor
“What can I do?” asks the teacher
First do no harm.

“What can I do second?” asks the nurse
“What can I do second?” asks the doctor
“What can I do second?” asks the teacher
Take a second.
What agency, what power, what strength do you have?
Use it.

Talitha Fraser

 

What can I do?

petition ~ direct contact ~ Refugee Action Collective ~ advocacy ~ financial support ~ actions – personal/political/liturgical ~ letter(s) to politicians ~ song ~
existing campaigns e.g. GetUp or LMAW ~ use your forums and voice e.g. blog

 

 

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April 2017 Refugee Action Collective Forum: [from left] Aziz from Manus (Skype), S. Ravi Nagaveeran (Nauru), Lucy Honan (Refugee Action Collective), Lynne Elworthy (Nurse)

 

 

 

 

 

Replaced my name with a number. Don’t want to leave our country if we can live free.  Men risk journey in the deep water.  Carried lots of dream seeds with me and now I have none. Last four days… no water and no food.  No life, no food and no hope.

We are not here to steal. We are not Captain Cook. Save their life in the water and killing them on the land. 29 April he died [friend set himself on fire]. Keep faith and don’t lose hope.  This morning I thought: “I want to kill myself.” I am nothing here.

Knock the back door, they didn’t break the door, they couldn’t find their way to the front door. We never wants to come to Australia only want to come free… to gets out of this hell… this human dumping ground.

I used my time writing, dreaming, giving good things… we are not your enemies. Call us – we are your neighbours, call us we are your friends, together we can make Australia great.

I still have to say my boat arrival number now. [not known by his name]

~Ravi


 

Activist – gives me a power, a strength, to have have that.

Australian Guantanamo Bay.
Name and codes that they are using are the same.
Now is the time for all Australians to know what is going on there.

Oct 2013: There was shooting, gates were open.
Staff who are paid to protect us ran away…
in this instance their job was to “take care of ourselves first”
We did not know if it was a drill, practice or something else.

April 2017: Someone from the local defense force, drunk, came to where
we were playing sport. We told him: “Go away”.
Two hours later there was firing at every angle on the centre.

We had enough suffering. We had enough human rights violations. Human beings like you but dehumanise you.  I don’t want much – shelter and some chance to live free.

Doors impregnable.  Only one option left: Risk life on the oceans…
survive = hero, drown = feed the fish. At least your soul is at peace.
Not heroes… criminals.
But if you look at the conditions for criminals in Australia
they are treated better than we are.
Our rights have been taken away.
My name has been taken away that my parents gave me. I’m am QNK002.

People need to know the truth.
We need people to write. Be one voice to fight for this policy.
We never forget. We very proud. We pray for you day and night to have the strength and the power for this policy to change.  For the day we can get our freedoms.

~ Aziz


 

[in response to Peter’s Duttons account of a child being brought into the Manus detention Centre]

One gate… another gatehouse… another gatehouse…
no one can go in that isn’t staff or a refugee.
“Walk of shame”

“What crime did I do to put me in jail for four years?”
Australia’s criminal system is for guilty people. Refugees have done nothing.  If an Australian prisoner is sick they get seen at a clinic > ambulance > hospital > ambulance > another hospital. On Manus – need a rubber stamp to get off Manus and it doesn’t come in time. Australian prisoners get visitors… see family.  On Manus no one comes unless working with refugees.

Built 2 new prisons on Manus. Spent billions to keep them on Manus. “Mum, if you want people to listen to you talk about the men on Manus you have to talk to their pockets.

No money, no papers, no place to go.
It’s a cage, a concrete cage.
No toilets, no water, no beds, no blankets.

Waste – serving no useful purpose. So much talent in there. COuld have worked, Australia could have something useful for the money they have spent. Really good sportsmen, rep Australia in weightlifting, Socceroos, cricket – this is the time they would be developing that talent that they’re wasting.

I knew it would be in the article but not that I’d be named. I wasn’t being brave I was just speaking what was in my heart.
{Aren’t you afraid of going to jail?}
My kids are growing up. I’m old enough. What difference does it make?

~ Lynne


 

IHMS left Manus? Still here. Three weeks ago, big problem, with no warning stopped working. Had problem with Health MInister of PNG – refused to renew contract. IHMS didn’t hand over all the files.  “What sort of medicine are you taking?”  We don’t know the names… nervous… I’m the patient… I don’t know.  Contract renewed for 3 months until the end of June – after that we don’t know, especially with medical files.  Could get ‘lost’ we don’t know. Not good health cover. System designed to hurt you mentally, physically… “Send a message… send you back…” mosquito bite like a ball (panadol and water), headaches (panadol and water), diarrhea (panadol and water), back ache (panadol and water)… we have these where we come from but we didn’t know it could fix everything! What we suffer from? Negligence. Like Faisal, every 3 days for 6 months I write for him. No trust, interpreter not interpreting everything.  Kicked out. “You’re not sick. Please stop coming here. Sick and tired of seeing your complaint coming every day”. Faisal asks community for help. [petition] …more than half the community signed. Taken to isolation. “If anything happens to me, take care of my kids. I’m going to that place. I don’t know what will happen there.” Two days later, heard he had passed away. IHMS designed to destroy us mentally and physically by the system.

~ Aziz


 

Magic panadol? Super water?
Let me know where to get that.

~ Ravi


 

No paper trail on the computer.
Nursing someone to get better to go back to Nauru – what role can the unions play?
Not sign discharge papers? Sent back 24-hours later.
Most unethical situation I have ever been in.
Told: “You’re  earning your money out of our blood.”
You would go there as a volunteer if you were allowed but you’re not.
You have to get paid to get in.

The Australian population doesn’t want to believe you’re telling the truth. Need doctors and nurses who have established trust to use their platform to advocate.

Despite everything these men are standing tall, standing straight.
Superhuman resiliency – respect to the men, past and present.

~Lynn

 

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JUDE KELLY

My grandmother did two things for me: let me use teatowels as costumes (we had no dress-up box) and encouraged my singing… she taught me that I was entitled to dreams and hopes and that those hopes and dreams were valid.

What have we done to make the
umbilical cord of history so thin?
[of voice/story]

We have a WOW because we want to celebrate what women are doing.
It starts with a “Think In” – what does WOW look like where you are?
They are a network of caring.  Two things you can say about women:
they are tired and they’re frightened.

When Somaliland’s First Lady wanted to
build a maternity hospital
the builders said they didn’t have time.
She answered: “Teach me to make a brick”.

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HANA ASSAFIRI

Social justice is not discretionary.

The future is ours to make.

Intersectionality is embodied in the margins.
Social context, empowerment, employment and education
are where social change meets intersectionality in a practical way.

Where we feel an intuitive connection
we have an intuitive intelligence. We need
to back ourselves on what we feel and what we know.

Communities are strengthened through diversity.

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MARIA KATSONIS

“We tell ourselves stories in order to live” – Joan Didion

I have to be authentic to who I am.

The nature of my ambition has changed.
I believe in the power of one to affect social change.

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TANIA CANAS

We are theory and theory is ours.
Arts, politics… theory is everyday life.

Education in Australia separated self and theory.  
Theory became externalised from the body.
It went from everywhere to nowhere.
Not ‘by us’ but ‘to us’. Not changing, but static.
Institution imposed a hierarchy of knowledge.
The indigenous people of Central America knew  astrology, geography, how to make chocolate.  They wrote in hieroglyphics and were writers, philosophers, theorists… there has been a genocide of knowledge = epistemicide.
They have colonised not just our bodies but our minds.

In my culture, cooking is at the centre of community.
With white feminism – I didn’t want to learn my mother’s cooking.
Now I am looking to bruja feminism, because the white feminism didn’t
acknowledge my ancestors, my mother or the role of hospitality as resistance – my mother cooked for the group that met at the house.

Not buried, didn’t die, not lost –
these ways of knowing are resistance.

It’s not known or recognised how strong women of colour are.
You will be marginalised: you need to ask:
will I notice, will I do something?

It’s hard. That’s why we need you to be there.

Research is embodied.  We write struggle.
When we theorise, we write with our bodies.
To write/use a theory, you need to embody it. Resist epistemicide.  
You write and exist in the in-between. Don’t lose yourself.

 

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An outsider would not have noticed any visible changes. The same skies, the same seas. The same faces… But they know that everything was different. Their banal everyday life which they knew with such familiarity had been transfigured,  They had been given new eyes and the solid objects and stone faces which filled their space became transparent. It was as if they saw invisible things which were visible only to those who had seen the angel troubling the waters of the pool – the dead man.

Normal mirrors reflect things which are present; but dreams show things which are absent… their stories about the dead man were stories about themselves. Stories not about what they were (that is what they saw when they looked in their mirrors…) but stories about what they desired to be: this is what they saw as they faced their dreams…

Inside our flesh, and mixed with the noises of Death, there is written an indelible story of beauty.  And even without knowing we know that we are destined to this happiness: the Prince must meet Sleeping Beauty.

The villagers remembered. Their stories were the return of a lost time: the past, desired, repressed, forgotten, dead, resurrected from the grave.

…How could I explain to her that the story was always happening in the present just because it had never happened in the past, in the far distant land?

…the beautiful wants to return… its time is sacred; it is reborn every morning; it is the time of resurrection.

…Once upon a time, in a far distant land…” : a cloud of mist covers the narrative to conceal its real time and space which are ‘now’ and ‘here’… the ‘once upon a time, in a far distant land’ is a metaphorical was of speaking about a present loss.

p.39-41, The Poet, the Warrior, the Prophet

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Panellists Rosie Kilvert, Léuli Eshraghi, Paola Balla,  Kamahi King
and Miliwanga Wurrben in conversation

 

Sovereignty is my inalienable right.
It cannot be taken away from me.
– Paola Balla

I try to stay strong within myself. Decolonising for myself.
I am a Wemba-Wemba and Gunditjmara woman, not “aboriginal”.
– Rosie Kilvert

 

I know where I come from – that gives me strength.
Concertina Bush stands for my people.
She only speaks Kriol, people have to understand it.
She is my Voice for the expression of my Gurindji sovereignty.
– Kamahi King

Grew up in the bush. My freedom. My school. Everything I was taught given by mothers, aunties, grandmothers – bound together by respect and as indigenous women.  I was illiterate. Taught by a missionary-lady at a community school.  Such patience teaching us Western ways.

Broke so many protocol. First, I had a male teacher. We’re not allowed to look at/make eye contact with men. “Look at me! Look at me in the eyes when I am speaking to you!” This was one of my first experiences at school. I could not understand what I had done but it must have been something more than I could imagine – I thought of my mother, aunties, cousins… what would they say when they heard this? My sovereignty is as an indigenous person, it’s in my culture, with my people. I found balance… took a very, very long time. Didn’t take away what I had, it’s still in me.
– Miliwanga Wurrben

 

Where you are uninvited you have to make sure you
have first relationships… there is no treaty here.
You have to locate yourself in relationship.

…Every structure is illegal that
doesn’t have treaty/relationship.
– Léuli Eshraghi

Beauty was always very sacred for our women. Scarves, paint… essence, dignity, respect… beauty is the essence of that love. Love yourself for who you are – that is one of our protocols. “Too fat! Eat more!” we have none of that. There is a beauty and grace of being an indigenous woman.  Those who come to work in the clinic and court – they can’t wear short shorts, jeans, tight singlets. We dress in a way that respects the other women. If one doesn’t have those things, we can’t have it either. The young girls like and wear makeup but not when they come home. Nakedness is part of us.  Scarring and painted body.
– Miliwanga Wurrben

 

Q: What will you do on January 26th?
(note: I’ve deliberately chosen not to attribute these quotes as I feel, although they spoke in their own voice, the panelists also spoke as one Voice and I want to express that if I can)

Don’t celebrate either way. I do nothing to give it energy. Day we lost all hope really. I wish that the stamp duty of from the sale of every house would go to local Aboriginal people. To my own mob. This is an example of how we could get past “eating out of the white man’s hand”. I mourn.

Refuse to call it that [Australia Day]. It’s celebrating genocide. I pay thanks to the ancestors and their resilience. Put out a reminder: We’re still here. Surviving and thriving.

I might go to Share the Spirit or a protest. Send prayers to those who have passed and shouldn’t have.

 

The Weaving Country exhibition will run at Footscray Community Arts Centre until 1 April, 2017 and I encourage people to check it out, many of these beautiful pieces are available to buy.

Artists include Sandra Aitken, Eileen Alberts, Donna Blackall, Lee DarrochDebbie Flower, Gail Harradine, Cassie Leatham, Denise Morgan-Bulled, Greta Morgan, Glenda Nicholls, Kathy Nicholls, Marilyne Nicholls, Eva Ponting, Bronwyn Razem and Lisa Waup.

Weaving Country

Weaving Country is a story of weaving and fibrecraft across Aboriginal Victoria from the Victorian Aboriginal Weavers Collective.

In this exhibition we have aimed to create a woven narrative, beginning with baskets as vessels for gathering and fibres as the threads that knit together family and kinship ties.

In this way we liken our first collaborative curatorial journey together as a journey of gathering and collecting.  Having gathered the weavers works into our metaphorical curatorial basket, we have then bought these works together to create a cohesive and beautiful body of work.

Weaving Country is about Country and place.

Each weaver’s generational knowledge of grasses, fibres, harvesting and process is inherent in their practice.  What is not always apparent, and is the idea this exhibition aims to provoke, is the impact environmental changes have on the grasses ad fibres used by the weavers and therefore on the overall health and wellbeing of COuntry and People.  This is reflected in the diverse use of materials and the incorporation of found objects.

The Victorian Aboriginal Weaving Collective speak with one voice through their diverse woven and sculptural forms to the strength and vitality of this continuing and unbroken tradition. These contemporary works demonstrate their innovation yet retiran cultural integrity and truth.

By Vicki Couzens and Hannah Presley

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Local cafe, local community, local coffee, local story… what are the stories of your neighbourhood? Are you listening out for them?
This is a story from mine…

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So, what is the Common Galaxia? 

Around one kilometre north of where the mouth of the Maribyrnong nudges its way into the Yarra on the tip of Port Melbourne, the bends of the river flatten out into a strait of slow water.

This stretch of river is home to the Common Galaxia, an entirely unremarkable and utterly fascinating little fish. Silvery and fantailed, found in half the rivers of the world, the Common Galaxia, as singular fish, live for a year but, as a species, outlast everything built around them.

For thousands of years the Common Galaxias propped up the lifecycle of the Saltwater River, feeding the eel and bigger fish and, in turn, feeding the Wurundjeri people. In 1835, Europeans sailed into the river and cut through the scrub and, over the next century-and-a-half, the steady march of industry – from tanners to candle makers and metal works to acid factories – started crowding the banks of the Maribyrnong. In short time, the little whitebait had a lot more to worry about than Southern Black Bream or Short-finned Eel making a meal of them.

Not only did the Common Galaxias have to adapt to their river home becoming more industrial waste than water, they were forcefully relocated as the join between the Maribyrnong and the Yarra at Footscray was closed to continue the line of wharves along the river. The waterway had become something lived on rather than lived in. But the little fish refused to give up, laying low and holding on among the weeds that clung to the riverbank.

And things have a way of coming back around. The city grew. Industries changed. The river is running a little easier again as homes have replaced factories and parks dot the river bends where the docks once stood. The deep heart of the river still beats strong through a small silvery fish, hardly known but vital to this stretch of land and water. The Common Galaxia is a tiny reminder that nature will survive everything we build, and you can only ever borrow a spot on the bends of a river. A spot like this one…

 

Common Galaxia Cafe in Seddon, Melbourne
– more to it than just good coffee…

Perspective

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Hey, here… I brought you something.

 

 

 

What is it?

 

 

 

It’s just a little branch I picked up. I think it’s beautiful.

 

Some trash you picked up somewhere?

 

 

One man’s trash is another…
Oh. You don’t want it?

No. Why would I?

 

 

Then I’ll keep it.

What for?!

 

 

That’s what I do.

 

Look for the beauty in things no one wants.

Look for the beauty in things that seem broken and useless and try and find a place for them.

It’s the way you see things that makes them matter.