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What would you do for your family?

I’ve been trying to write a blog for a few days now and I’m finding it very difficult. My head is swimming with all the things I’ve experienced so far. The walking is giving me time to digest, even though at times the road is very busy with cars flying by. Each time a truck goes by I nearly get blown away! (Don’t worry mum, I’m walking as far from the traffic as possible!)

I’m amazed at all the opportunities that have been given to me to learn more about refugees and their journeys and also to see first hand the good work people are doing to help. After visiting Janette at St Patricks in Kilmore and an Assyrian family in Wallan yesterday, one theme is at the forefront of my mind: Family. How important it is to have your family together.

I have three sisters and when I’m with them it’s as if I’m recharging my batteries. The four of us together is a rare and precious thing and I cherish those moments so dearly. If you visit my dad’s house, our central hub, the walls are overflowing with photos, our family history. I never want to have to look at those photos and see only three when there should be four.

Today I met a family doing everything they can to become whole again. Their story is admirable and definitely for a blog post of it’s own, which I’ll post when I’ve given it more thought. I will tell you one thing, because I can’t stop thinking about it and it made me think of my family and what it might be like if something like this happened to us.

George lived with his wife and three children in Syria. Below is a photo of their village. He pointed out their house to me, it’s one of the ones in the middle. The village name is Tel-Hermez, Hasaka, Syria.

Now their village looks like this. This is their house. You might have seen all this on the 7:30 Report late last year.

George and his family had to flee for their lives. Sadly, his oldest son fled in a different direction. He was at an age where he would be forced to fight and therefor had to leave early. He ended up in Germany, alone, while the rest of his family ended up in Australia. While George’s immediate family is safe (he has relatives in Lebanon who are waiting for Visas to come to Australia), George is desperate to see his son again, to reunite his family.

Listening to him I felt so helpless. He asked me to take his son’s name to Canberra and ask Malcolm Turnbull for help. At that moment I switched places with him. I was in his position and my youngest sister was separated from us. We were three, not four and she was all alone in a strange new world where she didn’t speak the language. What’s more, we would’ve just gone through hell and would probably need each other now more than ever. I would do whatever it took to get my sister back. Just like George.

This is at Anwar Soma's house. He and his wife have lived here since 1971, when they came as refugees. Now they help their family, including George (right) and other members of their community to establish a safe life in Australia. We'll be hearing more about their journey soon.

Do you have a story about your family? You are welcome to post a comment or email me with your story and I can post it. I have another story from this day, from the Kilmore Parish. It's a wonderful story too which deserves it's own blog coming soon.

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” - Atticus Finch - To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

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