Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Michael talks about the Poppykettle

from w
Michael Martinez from Geelong's Diversitat talks about the children's fable of the Poppykettle and links it with the story of refugees coming to Geelong.

Michael Martinez: Poppykettle story proud reminder of compassion

December 3, 2015 12:09pm 
Michael MartinezGeelong Advertiser
The Poppykettle Playground on the waterfront is a timely reminder of this city’s long history of helping strangers to our shores.
WITH the arrival of December and the increasing appearance of decorations, I took a moment to stop and think about what Christmas means for me.
It is time spent with friends and family, supporting those less fortunate than us and thinking of those who are no longer with us. It is ultimately a time for peace, compassion and reunification.
With the launch of the floating Christmas tree on the Geelong waterfront, I recently found myself walking past the old Poppykettle memorial. This is a story I have strong memories of as a child.
It is a story of people arriving on the shores of Geelong after a long and dangerous journey, having fled their home country, which had recently been invaded. I recall in my childhood, this was a story we were immensely proud to have associated with Geelong, and even held an annual children’s festival in its name.
Although only folklore this story holds extraordinary parallels with the refugee crisis we see today. Like the Poppykettle, refugees today are seeking help and protection in a new and strange land. They have travelled long and dangerous journeys. Geelong can help by opening their arms and hearts in welcome and protection.
At Diversitat our staff have the honour and privilege of assisting newly-arrived refugees to settle into the Geelong community. With this also comes the sadness of stories and experiences recalled of fear and loss.

What resonates at this time of year is the immense sadness of being separated from loved ones. We regularly hear of stories of families separated as they flee to safety. Family members who have disappeared when seeking to assist others. Family members who, due to complex bureaucracy, remain behind in refugee camps. Family members who remain persecuted and fearful for their lives.

While some have made it safely to our shores, others are left behind.
The Geelong community has a proud history of welcoming and supporting migrants, who have gone on to contribute much to our region. Our communities are made up of diverse cultures and people, from the early days of migration from Europe to those fleeing persecution today.
During the 1950s and 1960s, the “Norlane Hostel” provided temporary home to thousands of migrants, many of whom took up work at Ford, International Harvester and Shell. Today this site is home to the Northern Community Hub, a shared community space for multicultural communities and the location of our refugee assistance program.
We see many tragic stories in the news around the world and sometimes that leads to feelings of helplessness, but there is much we can do right here to help not only recent arrivals but others who are experiencing disadvantage in our community.
During this festive season, I set a challenge to everyone in Geelong to take a little time to support others in need and to show compassion and understanding to all. There are a large number of community organisations in the Geelong region, who provide direct support and services to those in need.
Donate a gift to the Bethany Giving Tree Appeal, which supports families who are doing it tough this festive season. Volunteer for a particular cause or check out Volunteering Geelong for opportunities. Or find and support the many other causes that support others in the region and beyond.
At Diversitat we have launched a Christmas appeal with a focus on providing advice for family members who have been separated due to war and persecution. We are delighted to have the support of Deakin University as a partner. It will dollar match public donations up to $7500.
We hope through this appeal to reunite more families so they can celebrate future Christmas’s together. If you would like to support our appeal go
In the interim you might like to investigate the Poppykettle story for yourself with a visit to the Poppykettle Playground on the Esplanade.

— Michael Martinez is the chief executive officer of Diversitat.


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