23 Oct 2023
Compassion for refugees
Year 7 students learned about what it’s like to be a refugee, hearing from former refugee Bishop Daniel Abot and Director of News for the Anglican Church Southern Queensland Michelle McDonald.
Bishop Daniel spoke to the boys about his experience as a refugee from South Sudan and Michelle discussed her role as an editor and journalist with a specific focus on law and politics concerning refugees. Michelle also works on the ground to help support refugees.
Students were keen to learn more about refugee rights, the laws regarding refugees and refugee experiences following their study of the novel, The Bone Sparrow, by Zana Fraillon, in English classes. The novel focuses on a young refugee growing up in an Australian offshore detention centre.
We thank Bishop Daniel and Michelle for giving generously of their time to share their insights with our students.
Senior School Teacher Emily Bullow said Bishop Daniel and Michelle were incredibly insightful and spoke with great passion and sincerity.
‘By hearing from the speakers in person, the hope was to encourage greater empathy and inter-cultural awareness and allow the boys to connect with social justice issues within our global community,’ Emily said.
Three students share their reflections on the presentation:
I was most shocked by the everyday experiences of refugees in their attempts to seek freedom. From having nothing to do each day in the Kenyan refugee camp, facing starvation and becoming prey to wild animals, it shocked me that Bishop Daniel is still alive to tell his story today. I also felt saddened for those who are unable to tell their stories—those who lost their lives and those who are still in refugee camps. This presentation reminded me of the importance of being accepting and supportive of refugees in their fight for awareness and human rights. Whether it be protests, social media posts or fundraisers, we can all fight for refugees and welcome them to Australia.
This presentation clarified my perception of refugees and people seeking asylum and gave me a new perspective on it as it was a first-person account. Hearing from Bishop Daniel reinforced the hardship experienced by refugees. I think it is important for us to hear directly from people of refugee backgrounds because it can give us a clear understanding of the struggles and pain they go through. I also thought it was interesting to hear about how Michelle has helped refugees and people seeking asylum.
Michelle and Bishop Daniel’s discussion about the importance of refugees in communities and their valuable contribution to multicultural Australia was fascinating. Bishop Daniel’s story was moving and personal and made us deeply connect with refugees’ stories of both sadness and hope. I was shocked by the lengthy process experienced by people seeking refuge. Bishop Daniel not only expanded my understanding of being a refugee and a person seeking asylum but also inspired me to get out there and help those in need. The presentation reinforced the value of refugees, who add to the richness of our multicultural country with diverse religions, languages, cultural traditions and cuisines.