Part documentary and part rock- opera. Fela and the People is a kaleidoscope of colour, movement, rhythm and sound that will take its audience deep into the hidden cultural world of Nigeria.Read More
After spending a week at our beloved Cisarua Refugee Learning Centre I am sitting at the airport with a renewed determination. What can we do to counter Trump, and an Australian government who supports his policies?
Well, I’m doubling down on supporting the CRLC. I’m coming back to Australia with new gusto and determination. Now it’s more important than ever to reach out from behind our government. We have to show the world that generosity of spirit, connection across borders and helping each other is the only way. Locking out defenceless people and bullying the most needy is not the right direction.
This week at the CRLC I spent the first few days watching family after family line up to register. 25 new names just this week! One family of six had arrived from Kunduz two days ago. You could still see war in their faces and in the way they held their bodies. I was thinking what can we do?
And then straight after that, the horror of this weekend. The realisation that this really is happening.
One of our best teachers is affected. After nearly fours years of valiantly waiting in 'the queue’, and two years of volunteer teaching at the CRLC, she was days away from going to the USA. No one knows what will happen now.
Another family, after three years has been asked to come to the airport on the 31st. We can only hope.
Samie, who was 14 and living on the streets outside the UNHCR when we met, was due to leave today. I just heard he has boarded the plane. What will happen when he arrives? Will they send an orphaned 16 year old boy back to the Jakarta streets? You can read more about his story in the NY Times here.
The school is running like clockwork under our fiercely determined and talented manager, Tahira. The students have advanced incredibly. Every kid comes up for a chat in English, which is now as good as any their age. The mornings are full of classes and bells and playtime, as teachers prepare lessons in the lounge. There are 50+ older women in the afternoons learning ABCD. Online classes run downstairs and Australian volunteer teacher’s voices ring out through Skype. The older students stay at school all day to work on presentations and projects.
I’m so proud of everyone there, and so proud to have helped make this happen.
I arrive back tomorrow morning and the work starts then. I’m going to be knocking on your door. Cake stalls, fundraisers, lounge room presentations, university talks. I’m in. If you want to know what the refugees are really like. Invite Muzafar and I to speak. We can screen our film for you. Want to volunteer teach via Skype? Let us know. We can arrange internships too, live with the refugees and get to know the community. You’ll see pretty quickly they’re not much of a danger.
Make a donation at Cisarualearning.com right now. It’ll go towards the education of some of the best people you are ever likely to meet - the teachers, managers and students at the CRLC.
During my time in Nigeria I was lucky to become friends with Bibi and her partner Jeremy. They run Cassava Republic Press, Nigeria's premiere book publishing company, with a mission to encourage Nigerians and Africans to read stories about their lives, told from an African perspective. A mission they attack with religious fervour and zeal!
As part of the Nigerianstories.com web series I interviewed Bibi and have never forgotten what she said. For me, like her, no matter what anybody tells me, it is culture that sits at the core of everything else that we do. Everything. And that is why our stories, and who tells them, are so critically important. In Africa. In Nigeria. In Australia.
Enjoy the wisdom.