Tuesday, May 04, 2004

In a Foreign Land

Tonight myself and some friends had agreed to help out with registration, workshop sign-up and letter writing efforts at a meeting looking into Asylum issues.

As well as presentations on the current legal situation and key issues and a chance to hear stories direct from some asylum seekers and refugees, there are workshops looking into How to Resist the BNP, Feeding the Destitute, Housing the Destitute, How to Set up a Project and so on.

I’m once again floored by the amazing work ordinary people do. I was also pleasantly surprised by the size of the turnout. Not being a regular church-goer these days I tend to feel uncomfortable at such events, but these people confound my prejudices with their commitment and compassion.

It’s also a chance to catch up with my friend M, who has similarly been collared into helping out. It seems unbelievable that it’s now 15 months since we first met. All this talk of people being made destitute takes me right back to that time and I can see the emotion rise in her as Phil explains to the audience the ridiculous legislation and practices that put people in this situation.

I offer up a prayer of thanksgiving as I consider how far we have come since then.

There are still obstacles to be overcome. Having now received a positive decision M is about to be made homeless and destitute for the second time as the system runs out of kilter with itself and one set of support finishes before the other kicks in. Still this time around it will at least be a short term thing and M now has a wide circle of friends to see her through. There’s also a good likelihood of her landing a job she applied for (she’s through to the third interview stage!), which will of course solve part of the problem. Here’s hoping.

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