Monday, April 28, 2008

Tomato chutney and Detention Centres

from w
What has Afghan Azaadi (Freedom) Tomato Kasaundi got to do with a Detention Centre?

Once a week a group of Geelong and district women meet together in a kitchen (approved by the Health Department) to make chutney using recipes from Afghan refugees - what the refugees remember from their mothers' kitchens. These are sold to fund aid for Afghan refugee families.

But there's more to the story than that. This morning at our Geelong Women's Znterfaith group we had a Queenscliff woman from the Rural Australians for Refugees as guest speaker. She told us of two Afghan young men who were in the Baxter Detention Centre for years and years and the difficulties they had in proving that they were genuine refugees. After years they eventually gained temporary visas to allow them out of incarceration - which is worse in some respects than a prison as there are so few rights for visitation. Our speaker had been going to Baxter (out of Port Augusta) in South Australia, a long journey each way - several times to talk with her 'adopted' sons. The detention centres in Australia are not government-run but are privatised and the rules and regulations are dreadful. One legal hurdle after another is placed in front of these detained people until they become clinically depressed.

Anyway right at the end of the story, the speaker said that one of the men she had helped and who has not seen his wife and daughter for eight years had recently gained Permanent status so was able to obtain travel documents to go to Pakistan (but not to Afghanistan) to find his family who are in a refugee camp there. This morning at 3 a.m. our speaker received a phone call from Pakistan. It was to say 'Mohammed' had just met his wife and daughter and his eight-year-old daughter 'is gorgeous'! He wanted to phone his Geelong Mum who had been his supportive Aussie for so many years.

We asked the speaker why she had this passion to help refugees and she said she was just an ordinary grandmother and mother who once heard someone speak about the detainees who were incarcerated after being washed up on Ashmore Reef and she decided to do something, just write a letter to one or two of the people detained.



Blogger Erin&Casper said...

We have just moved to Geelong and are interested in meeting like minded people - and your article about christian response to afghan refugees sounded amazing.

We have recently returned from a delegation with the christian peacemaker teams in Israel/Palestine and are looking for similar networks to be involved in here.
And to also find some friends in a new town!

Please let us know if there is a way we can be involved.
Our email is erin_adson at hotmail dot com.

Erin and Casper Adson

7:44 PM  
Blogger Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Hello Erin and Casper, welcome to Geelong. I'll email later but I'm sure you'll soon find lots of like-minded people in the networks and voluntary organisations here. You must have some excellent stories to share also on your website.

9:38 PM  
Blogger Little Miss Swan said...

I was wondering if there was any way that I could get this recipe? I do lots of aid work and work with refugees and would love to pass on this idea!
Thank you in advance!!

4:11 AM  

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