Until We Are All Free

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photo 5My 13-yr-old granddaughter, Zoë, on Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers:

My name is Zoë Davis. I live in a comfortable home with a room all to myself. I go to school, have three large meals a day, have a hot shower whenever I want, and have a family who love and support me. I live in a city where I have access to everything I could ever need, a state with a great education system and in a country that is currently at peace with the rest of the world.

When I was 9 years old, my twin sister Bella and I found out about these asylum seekers. And, like any other 9 year old humanitarians out for blood and justice, we decided to make a difference by busking; first grade flute and trumpet – those market regulars must’ve loved us. We decided to raise money to buy toys for the kids stuck in the detention center nearest to our home in Darwin.

Soon after, we drove to the detention center to join the organised peaceful protest, meeting our activist aunts, uncles and cousins. Our grandpa was also there, holding a big sign that read: ‘Until we are all free, none of us are free’. The detention center certainly looked like a prison to us. We had been allowed to hand deliver some of the toys we had bought to representatives of the asylum seeker community. A brief meeting though it was, it was such an eye opener to the reality of the situation. We met two families in a small area between two high, menacing fences. What was scary about it was that one of the girls was barely younger than us. How is it that while I get so much opportunity and comfort in my life, hers was torn apart by her one chance at safety, spending weeks, if not months travelling to Australia only to find that while she was finally safe, she was not at all free?

All over the world, people are forced to flee their homeland because it is no longer safe for them, and gamble their lives on a cramped, unreliable boat, to come to a land where they hope they and their family will be safe – and then when those people arrive, our hard-hearted government, who may I add we can openly verbally disagree with if we choose, decide to lock these people up in isolated places called detention centres.

Refugees come to Australia hoping for safety and shelter only to be locked in what will grow to be their prison. Their crime? Seeking safety from situations where their very lives are in danger. The more people stand up for the rights of every single human being, the more likely it is to happen. Alone, we can fling pebbles and stones. With a twin sister and a family who believes in you and what you are doing, you can hurl boulders. Standing together as a community, we can move mountains.

It’s up to us to join hands as a community and strive for the equality and freedom of everyone. Because, after all, until all of us are free, none of us are free.

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