WALKING WITH THE EXCLUDED
On 8th June, to help mark international Refugee Week, over 50 students and staff from six Catholic schools attended a ‘Table Talk’ event organised by Our Lady of the Way Parish in collaboration with the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Australia. The event took place at the Ron Dyer Centre in North Sydney.
‘Table Talks’ were designed to be a powerful community expression of learning, solidarity and finding common ground in shared values to help build our capacity to support people of forced displacement background, both refugees and people seeking asylum.
At the event, students and teachers listened to powerful and courageous stories from two speakers with lived experience and then discussed, in small groups (table talks!), their impressions and reflections. The assistant director of JRS, Maeve Brown, also explained some of the current major issues affecting people seeking asylum in our country, particularly the difficulty in finding adequate resources to meet their ever-escalating needs, including basics such as food, accommodation and job opportunities.
One of the assistant priests at Our Lady of the Way Parish, Fr Sacha Bermudez-Goldman SJ, who was involved in organising the event, was inspired by the way the students engaged in conversation and listened attentively and respectfully to the stories shared: “their empathy and spirit of solidarity were palpable, especially when hearing about the constant challenges experienced in our country by people who have already suffered so much. It was also moving to hear their commitment and passion to do what they can to change current adverse policies and attitudes that affect the lives of forcibly displaced peoples who have come to Australia seeking refuge, hospitality and peace”.
If you are interested in organising a similar event in your school or parish, please contact Zoe Grant, Community and Schools Engagement Coordinator, Jesuit Refugee Service Australia, at email@example.com