Teaching Kids About Refugees

My kids and I started going along to the First Home Project Friday night parties last summer! I just loved the buzzing, welcoming atmosphere and the food! The FHP is a home that my amazing friends Jarrod and Teresa have opened up to refugees and they all live together! So on Friday nights the focus is on FUN! Everyone brings a salad and you share a meal together usually of the best Afghani chicken you’ve ever had in your whole life! People play boards games together, chat, play basketball or volleyball and do some awesome Persian dancing!

Kale the science wiz had a periodic table quiz with one of the refugees who had a degree in chemistry and they talked for hours! Kale also loves chess and enjoyed playing it there too. Ashleya loved joining in with the volleyball and playing with girls her own age who were refugees. I loved chatting to the refugee mums who were just like me, and my Elijah played with their little ones. I was shocked to hear about the ‘blasts’ and explosions that happen in their countries and how they all have at least one person missing in their family because they’ve been blown up- their dad, a nephew, a younger sibling. It’s devastating and it made me realise how lucky I was to be born in Australia!

Jarrod and Teresa have a huge heart for refugee children locked up in detention centres. They noticed that refugees who were escaping war would come to Australia and find it very difficult to rent because they had no documents or rental history and it wasn’t affordable for them. So they decided to buy their first home together, which was an old drug lab in Midland, and renovate it in to three separate units. No bank would give them a loan because it was zoned as commercial rather than residential, so they just crowd funded for their mortgage and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for their first house! They had investors from all over the world including exotic places like Hawaii! So they had enough money to buy the property, and are paying their investors and friends back over time, instead of the bank! Amazing what can happen when the community unites for the purpose of helping others!

So the ABC heard about this story, and decided to fly to Perth to film a documentary about the First Home Project! It was incredible! Our weekly hangout was going to be on TV! We also put on a concert! Marksman Lloyd, who was nominated for WAM’s best hip hop artist in 2014 performed and had the kids breakdancing to his beats, and I sang my song ‘We Will Change the World’, one of the songs from my album ‘Knocking on the Shore’.

So we went to the screening of the 'Love Makes a Way' documentary at the FHP a few weeks ago. There was a huge screen set up and lots of people on picnic blankets, and it was almost like going to the sky show because we had to park a fair distance away and walk there with a crowd of people! My kids were there watching it too, and it was an inspiring documentary! Then near the end, my kids were briefly in the doco, and Kale said ‘Oh no! I’m famous! I’ll never be able to go outside again!’ And then, I saw myself on TV on ABC Compass singing my song ‘We Will Change the World’, a song which I just wrote in my own bedroom! And it was the footage used to end the documentary! Surreal! If you're curious you can watch it HERE.

I make an effort to try and get to know people from all walks of life. When I hear stories on the news about refugees, police, teenagers, the elderly, business people, activists, drug addicts, billionaires, poor people, victims of violence, people in jail, foster children, etc. I have a real person who comes to mind and my heart softens and I’m filled with compassion. I hope I’m teaching my kids to do the same.