Befriend a Child in Detention
Some time ago I put my hand up to join the Befriend a Child in Detention project and write letters to children in the Nauru Detention Centre.
From the website: Befriend a Child in Detention is a community project committed to seeing an end to the detention of child asylum seekers. We aim to inspire and support compassionate Australians to make a positive connection with the children and families living in detention: to ameliorate their experience, to raise awareness of their circumstances, and to advocate for positive change.
It’s such a small gesture but with a big message and a massive impact – that people in Australia care. I was horrified to find the school had been closed and children were so bored that the power of a letter to brighten a day was almost magical.
How could I refuse a task like that? I’d written the letters to politicians and I’d signed the petitions but I wanted to something more “hands on” as well. Here was something concrete I could do.
It proved hard to begin. What do you say to a child at a time like this? In a place like Nauru? My heart wanted to say “I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” Over and over again. I am so embarrassed by what the government is doing on my behalf.
But I needed to be bright and cheerful. To focus on things that would make a child a little happier on a sad day in a sad place. So I talked about pets. And fish. And the turtle I found on the road and how I run really slow but I could still out run a turtle. I made origami dogs with smiley faces. I sent a SAE and I hope someone will write back. I’ll be writing again regardless.
You can do it too. Like the kids at Bell primary School:
All the instructions you need to become a penpal are here. Or you can buy these beautiful cards Gabi Wang made to raise money for the children detained on Nauru.