I’m writing these words, sitting out here at this bench, and I’m in shock. I just came from one of the most powerful lectures I’ve ever attended.
Today in my anthropology class, our lecturer invited a guest speaker. A student who’d worked in Australia’s detention centre in Nauru. He shared the inhuman things he’d witnessed, and all I could think was – why are we going back in time?
Six or more families are crammed together, to live in makeshift tents. It get’s incredibly hot during the day, over 50 degrees. Mould is growing everywhere. And you lose virtually all your privacy.
Children suffer developmentally, reenacting out parts of their trauma, with no mental health support. In addition they have little access to toys or a formal education. Their life – perhaps the only life they’ve ever known – is written out in the walls, concrete and white sand.
In this abnormal environment, guards impose a hierarchy where everything is under their control – from clothing, to meals, to 2 minute showers. For a women, when it’s her time of the month, she has to request sanitary pads from a male guard – and they don’t give her a pack – they giver her one or two. So she has to make multiple trips to request more.
Rape is common. Suicide is common. Self-harm is common. There is a complete lack of hope, where lives are left to deteriorate.
When Ji and I started writing this blog, we wanted to create a positive space, in a world where we learn to focus on the negative. We wanted to create an encouraging energy.
I think recognising human suffering though, is an important aspect of this. For one thing, it strips us of our bubble – which we can easily get caught up in (a.k.a. me and study this semester). But for another – learning about injustice is an opportunity to grow, and reach out to something greater than oneself. It is humbling, and heart breaking, and necessary. And if we never looked outside our own world, there would be no progression.
This post is in honour of those living in inhumane spaces – such as the asylum seekers detained in Nauru. And a prayer for the end to their suffering.