A Thank You - And Good News From Nauru
A Thank You - and good news from Nauru
Sent out by request of
18 May 2004
A little under a year ago I visited Nauru for the first time with Senator Andrew Bartlett. During our time there we met hundreds of individuals and their families. For reasons beyond understanding some people do remain more memorable than others and some cases touch your soul very quickly. This is a phenomenon common to many events; it doesn’t mean some people are more deserving than others, I think its just nature’s way of ensuring you remember something when faced with a concentrated amount of activity, people, joy or sorrow.
One family who has become very dear to my heart were in contact with a woman in Melbourne who rang me to make sure we spoke to a14 year old girl she had written to. The father is a quiet gently spoken man with five daughters. His despair at finding himself on Nauru, trapped and unable to assist his family was tangible. The distress of his daughters at their parent’s mental and physical disintegration was almost too much to bear.
When I visited Nauru with Senator Bartlett early this year we met with them again. Their story is personal and tragic and like all the stories I heard on Nauru, no good can be gained from their retelling, the trauma can only be spread further to Australians who can never imagine a life as violent and miserable as these people have been through.
Last month I spoke at a small meeting for ChilOut and told them I am felt this was in part a woman’s issue. This father had taken his family away from violent and blatant discrimination and had pleaded with me that they be sent anywhere in the world to any country as long as it was not a fundamentalist Islamic one. He had fled to give his daughters the kind of life we send our children to war to fight for, and we had locked him away on an island.
Late last night I received a phone call from this remarkable young lady who is now 15. She told me, that after all this time they had been recognized as refugees and would be coming to Australia. She cried and apologized repeatedly for not ringing me the day before, but she said the phones were full of people who had been ringing their friends in Australia.
Over and over she thanked me and thanked Senator Bartlett. We were her second phone call that night. The first had been to her friend in Melbourne who had been her lifeline. She asked me to make sure we continued to fight for those who had been rejected by the Department and would not be coming to Australia. In all her grief and joy she was gracious and caring for others.
She is not the first to have left Nauru thanking us for our work, and her concern for those left behind has been echoed by every person I have spoken to, who has been granted freedom.
As a political adviser I am surprised that Andrew has been the only Australian politician to visit Nauru in the past two years. I fully believe that visits from others would have increased the pressure and brought the suffering of these people to an end sooner.
I also am amazed at the compassion and the tenacity of Australian citizens who have, both as individuals and in support groups become the lifeline of these forgotten people and who never stopped lobbying the government to end their suffering.
I am amazed at the lawyers and migration agents who have taken on their work pro bona, to address the ludicrously criminal manner in which Australia has imprisoned these innocent people. And I am amazed at the tenacity of the staff of the UNHCR, IOM and those in DIMIA who have never stopped working to find the permanent and humane solution these people have deserved.
I would like to congratulate and thank you all; this fight has not been fought by one person alone and is certainly not over. But it is proof that one person can make a difference, one letter, one phone call, one conversation can become part of the build up which will free people and give them back their lives.
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
P.O. Box 364
Narrogin WA 6312
phone: 041 70 90 130