Around the Cutting Table

KORLU
I’ve been at Social Studio for 18 months. My brother was working here as a designer and introduced me to Enza, and she asked me to work here in the kitchen.
Now I’m cooking here and I’m doing the Cookery course at William Angliss Institute.
I like it there. There are good teachers, with a good environment. I’ve learned things I didn’t know before. Australian food; like pavlova and gnocci and risotto and sourdough bread too. We made marzipan to decorate cakes with. I made a zoo out of marzipan; a frog, a snake and a rock and trees. After a year I still have them.
Here at the SS I cook the curries; beef & chicken, lentil & beetroot. The curries are East African. But Liberian food different, it is very spicy. Liberian’s love spicy food that is really fresh. Cook today, Eat today! Lots of green veggies, broccoli leaf, silverbeet, spinach, cabbage, and eggplant and okra. I cook a cabbage and pumpkin curry, but I make it mild because people here don’t like it too hot. I cook it in coconut milk. Since I’m in Australia there is some food I miss like soursour leaf. It’s a bitter green vegetable that you can’t get here.

I want to have my own restaurant, an African restaurant with authentic food. I would cook for vegetarians, vegans, and for carnivores too and make a special dish from cassava leaf and spinach with fish and beef. Dishes that are not so well known here.

Our burger is different to any other burger you’ll get in Melbourne! It’s spicy and tasty. It’s really good

SOCIAL STUDIO BURGER
Beef Pattie
Ingredients:
½ kilo mince beef
1 tsp vegetable stock
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp mild chilli powder
1& ½ tsp coriander powder
20 gram chopped onion, finely diced
Salt & pepper to taste
Half a beaten egg
20 gram plain flour
Preparation:
Mix all together and shape and grill on an oiled metal tray.
Serve with lightly toasted, buttered Turkish bread and any fresh salad leaves.


MU MU
I’ve been at the Social Studio since last year in December. A friend told me I could do a hospitality course here and I checked their website and came in. I did a Certificate in Hospitality and I’m still working here.
First I made coffee. It was good because I was interested in learning how to make it. I trained for a week. Melbourne people are very particular about their coffee. I was stressed learning all the different coffees customers wanted.

I want to do more hospitality training in front-of-house and reception. Because I like communicating with people and talking with customers. I’ve met a lot of people. I don’t care if customers are nice or not I try to be nice to them.

After coffee training, I worked in the kitchen cooking. I learned how to cook all the African dishes on the menu. Enza taught me, but I also watched her and learned that way.

There’s not a very big difference between Karen food and African food. Rice and curry is standard but the cooking style is different. There is a lot of onion but Karen food does not have much. Karen food is not very spicy, it is mild. We eat rice and curry and hand made noodles made from rice. They are left overnight before they are eaten. Karen food is all fresh. We don’t buy anything from a shop, so everything is handmade. We grow all our own vegetables. There is a plant like basil; it has small, thick leaves and a lovely smell. But you can’t get it here.

TRADITIONAL KAREN RECIPE
Ta Ka Pore
serves 4 people
Ingredients:
Soak 2 cups of rice for 30 minutes
One cup of finely chopped pork or chicken (you decide!)
2-3 gloves of garlic finely sliced
1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger
4-5 black pepper corns; roll around a hot pan without oil until the aroma is released
½ Tablespoon tamarind powder
A few sliced bamboo shoots
Salt to taste
Fresh basil leaves

@1 year ago
#the cutting table #the social studio #food #cafe #recipe 

She is Silent

By Nicole Kuol, The Social Studio’s resident poet

Far across she is silent
Delicately plain in the sun
She sees all, and deafly speaks of none
I wander of secrets She hides
In Her floppy cotton skirts
Easily tainted with gloom
Sadly watching her
Change her mood so quick
Her heavenly tear Falling
If It wasn’t for the infinite space she wears
I would hold her and be tainted with her
Ahead of the road, she seems to touch my path
As if she read me
My thoughts just wander and
wander into her consuming silence

@1 year ago with 1 note
#poem #poetry #the social studio 

Workshop 1

My first project

@2 years ago with 1 note
#workshop1 #drawing #march #1st year 

A conversation about stars, imagination and the status quo

Nyadol:
Conventional knowledge is the enemy of imagination. It limits out ability to think beyond the ‘status quo‘.

Nyabana (Bern):
I do believe though that we are in a knowledge age where it is widely accepted and expected that improvements be made on current C.K. I think we can tell from the number of PhD candidates graduating from many institutions each semester.
Challenging and coming up with a completely opposite point of view to that of C.K ( ie stars don’t exist when we can clearly see them) however, might be a different ball game all together, but still if one can justify the basis of their argument. I don’t believe there would be anybody at such level to dismiss another’s “ability to think beyond
the ‘status quo‘“ just by citing C.K as the only reason to not be ‘imaginative’.
Therefore C.K is only ‘conventional’ until such time that new information becomes available, in other words, nothing is conventional for long in this day and age my dear. Imagine away and “status quo” yourself out anytime you like.

Nyadol:
Hello dear, very clever argument, and very right in its own rights.
However it is debatable whether PHD candidates come up with completely different point of views from C.K (thanks for the abbreviation). The
methodologies and the academic’s guidance make us work within the rules of academic writing and concepts. If you were to go too far,
most likely than not you might not get published. I think that’s the role of the supervisor. However that is not my point, because we are limited to work with what we know and understand and have available.
Most inventions are a ‘ re-arrangement’ of readily available material, whether in nature or manmade.
I have no problem with the statement you make. Because it can be both true and untrue, depending on what we are talking about. What I meant
was not to dismiss anyone’s ability to think beyond the status quo…. that why I used the phrase “limits our ability”. First I do not have
the ground to challenge anyone’s knowledge. Also I am a strong believer in constructivist theory; I believe there are no absolute truths but what exist are variations of the truth. And as long as my
variation of truth does not harm you or your concepts of self, life and general then we are fine. My favorite quote, by the way, is by Socrates which says, “all I know is that I know nothing”.
Imagination is important – this is my main point. You can argue that all that is C.K now began as imagination or an observation that was different from the original C.K. For example C.K was once that the earth was the center of universe until Galileo challenged this by stating the sun is the centre of the universe, which is now C.K. My
assumption is if we lack imagination, we lack the ability to think of something new. But if we imagine there could be something out there that is different, we are compelled to look into it.

PS. The example, ‘stars do not exist when we can’t clearly see them” I
wish to differ.
Stars that we do not know exist or can’t see clearly… do exist. What does not exist however is our knowledge of their existence or our ability to see the star. This does not change the fact that they
exist, in fact they would continue to exist whether we have knowledge of them or not, whether we can see them clearly or not.

@4 years ago

Community Gardens A Personal Experience

by Concetta Tahir

I first moved into the Richmond high rise thirty years ago. I lived on the 15th floor; I had never lived up that high before. I didn’t want to live there. It was a very rough environment. Concrete, hard, racist, cold. I felt my personal space was threatened, being in the lift so close to all sorts of people. The state of my health at the time compounded all these issues and more. I did manage to get a letter about the state of my health and how living in such an environment would not be a positive thing, to put it mildly. Plus I had a baby. The Ministry of Housing ignored the letter and me saying to them that I couldn’t cope living in such an environment. Too much concrete; I need trees, grass and flowers. The estate needs greenery badly. It felt very, very unhealthy.

The first I knew about the Community Gardens project was when the first of the two community gardens on the Richmond Estate Highett Street block, was when workmen were fencing the site. I thought at the time, like anyone would, that something was about to happen. Next I recall a gathering of residents. I cannot unfortunately remember the exact date. I did not know about the plan for a community garden on the estate as at the time I was isolated. I did not get involved. I found mixing with people very challenging because of my state of health. The Community Gardens were undoubtedly a breath of fresh air. A very positive move. I wanted a garden too. If only I had got involved.

The Community Gardens in public housing estates as far as I know have been a joint venture between Cultivating Community, City of Yarra and the Department of Housing. One of the main philosophies of Cultivating Communities is that through the Community Gardens they can promote healthy eating. Studies conducted over a long period of time concluded that the obesity problem was more of a problem in lower income areas. Studies done not by Cultivating Communities but by health professionals in the City of Yarra, Richmond, Fitzroy, Collingwood particularly show that there is a very high incidence of type 2 diabetes. One of the main reasons for this being our American fast food western lifestyle. I myself did not fully realise how serious diabetes really is until I completed two diabetes information sessions which each of the complete sessions lasted six weeks. So as you can imagine the Community Gardens are very important in what they promote.

The Community Gardens in my opinion promote good health and well being. A gathering place for the gardeners. We exchange information about the plants and recipes in a non-threatening environment. From my experience there are not too many negative things one could say about the Community Gardens. The Highett Street Gardens on the Richmond Estate has recently been renovated.

The styrofoam boxes have gone. It has a chicken house. They also have a pizza and bread oven.

My plot number at the Lennox Street Garden is number 17. I’ve been involved with the Community Gardens for roughly 10 years. I can access the garden at any time but to water my plants with tap water I can only go on Wednesdays and Sundays before 8am in the morning and after 8pm in the evening. At the moment I’m growing silverbeet, potatoes, celery, parsley, chives and mint. But not as much silverbeet as in previous years. I consider myself lucky to have this opportunity and I’m very happy to be a part of the community garden. Although I couldn’t see any advantages of living in the high rise when I first moved in, it does have its advantages .There have been lots of improvements on the estate. As far as health and colour goes the community gardens are the major plusses.

@4 years ago with 1 note

Racism - be informed not afraid

by Nyadol Nyuon

Racism can make one feel insignificant in a society that is dominated by the ‘other’.  But we are all the ‘other’.  And that is the problem.
Recently in Melbourne when I tried to board a tram, my bag got stuck at the doorway. A man covered with tattoos came and helped me pull my bag up and carried it to an empty seat.   Normally, if I had met him when I was alone, I would have kept my distance and not because he might attack me, but because I fear he had the potential of being racist.
A friend once told me, “You are afraid of racism, so afraid that you are crippled.” The statement seemed harsh at the time. With the benefit of hindsight, influenced by the incident on the tram, I have come to realise that there was some meaning and reason behind this comment.   Recently I have begun paying more attention to my thoughts and watching my reactions to find out whether I am indeed afraid.  I have not only realised that I am afraid, but I also realise that I am angry, so angry to the point of frustration.
I do not want to make excuses for racism or racist acts – there is a difference between the two; for some people can commit a racist act in the spur of the moment, while there are those that are racist in their beliefs and will never change their stance.  Nor am I saying that racism is only in the mind.  However the more I feared racism, the more I was becoming intolerant of the “other”. In this sense I became the monster that I feared. The idea that so much could depend on the colour of my skin made me angry and I started to lose hope in the belief that I could achieve my dreams.
 As a result, my approach to others was beginning to change – I stopped sitting near people I suspected could be racist, I avoided watching some programs, and generally I became suspicious; suspicious of racist intentions. But what was I basing my opinion on, what was my scale to assume that someone might be racist just by looking at them?
Is this not the same judgement that I feared most? The fear of being judged before one understands what they are judging.  To this extent I became the monster German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche warned about when he said “Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster”.

@4 years ago

Training In Hospitality

The Social Studio is offering ready-for-work hospitality training in our café, The Cutting Table, for members of migrant and refugee communities in Melbourne looking to gain skills for employment in hospitality.

WHAT
The training is a partnership with William Angliss Hospitality Institute. We are offering the following nationally accredited TAFE level course:
Certificate II in Hospitality + Certificate I in Vocational Preparation
The four-month course will cover a range of skills for customer service and kitchen operations jobs, including coffee-making, food safety, job application and interview skills, food preparation and much more.

WHEN
November 13th – February 28th

WHAT DAYS
Monday & Thursday afternoons, 3.00 - 6.30pm
Plus work experience hours in The Cutting Table café

LOCATION
The Cutting Table Café – The Social Studio
126 Smith Street, Collingwood VIC 3066

ENQUIRIES
Email: thesocialstudio@gmail.com
Website: www.thesocialstudio.org
Phone: 03 9417 2143 – Ask for Trudy or Grace

@1 year ago
#the social studio #the cutting table #hospitality #training #café 

Erjok Manyiel Nai - We Remember

His friends called him Giant E. But Erjok wasn’t just big in stature. Everyone who knew him said he also had a huge heart. He was a kind and loving young man.
One of six boys, Erjok had many friends from many different cultures. He was very close to his family, particularly his mother.

Erjok’s father, Manyiel Nai Achol Deng, is from Bor. Ayeel Ayeek Choi, his mother, is from Abeyi. Because of the civil war in Sudan they moved to Khartoum, where Erkjok was born on 09.11.1991. His brothers are; Achol, Deng, Nai and twins, Chan and Ngor.

When Erjok was eight, he and his family moved to Egypt, in search of a stable and secure life. Five years later, for the same reason, they moved to Melbourne. Erjok attended Blackburn English Language School and then Box Hill and Balwyn High Schools.

He was enrolled at Swinburne Tafe, completing an Advanced Diploma in Building and Construction, when he passed away on the 8th of August.
For his family and friends his loss has been profound. The community; South Sudanese and non-South Sudanese share their deep grief.

A perfect day for Erjok was playing basketball, sharing a meal with his family and hanging out with his friends. He had talent and plans and dreams.

Erjok will always be missed and never forgotten.


Alek and Atong, Social Studio staff, were friends of Erjok’s.

ALEK
We went to ESL school in Blackburn together when we first arrived 2004. He was so bright and welcoming and he was so funny to be around. He would joke and make you laugh. He had the most amazing personality he was so funny there was not a day I saw him down. He was one of those people he would make you happy if you were sad. Erjok was the kind of guy, everyone he met, he made them feel like he’s known them for a long time. He was so warm and friendly. He had lots of friends. He used to always sing and rap, he was really good. You would give him a word and he would make up a song. He was so talented in singing and I told him he should do it. He was a bit scared of being judged even though he was confident, but he didn’t know how good he sounded. He sounded really good. Talking about it makes me want to cry. He was so talented. I’m just so sad that his talent was wasted. We wanted to see him become something.

This is so hard. You have to care about your life. It could be taken away from you at any time.


ATONG
Erjok was a really close friend. I first met him at ESL school. He really, really liked to make fun of me. He called me lots of funny names.

He called me Watermelon Head in Arabic. He changed my name from Atong to Tonga, just because he felt like it. He was funny, very happy and was naturally stylish. He didn’t think about it. He just put it on. He looked good.

He was very, very caring. He loved his mum so much. He was close to his brothers and loved mucking around with them. We went on a family camp and the way he treated his brothers and aunty and cousins was just beautiful. He was such a respectful guy. He made kids laugh. He made them laugh even if they were annoying him. He loved children.

He was studying and wasn’t really sure what he wanted to do. He would have been really good at basketball and soccer. People enjoyed playing with him. He was the kind of person you know he would somehow become a leader. He inspired you to be the best and he was a good role model. People looked up to him and he taught me a lot of things. He taught me to see what’s inside a person not outside. He taught me to love my brothers and sisters because I could see how much he loved his family. I was touched by how much he loved his brothers. At camp I saw him playing with my twin brothers. They called him Bigfoot and he called them the simper twins. He was such a family man it is such a shame he didn’t get to have his own family.

There is so much I remember of him. I was never bored when he was there. There was not one single word he wasted. What he said was always touching. When I was on the train he would always hop on at Box hill or Mitchum. When I go through those stations on the train now, they won’t be the same.

He didn’t like fighting. If boys wanted to fight him, he’d say, ‘I’m not going to hurt you cause, I respect you too much. You can take your anger out on me, but I won’t take it out on you.’ It showed me a strong side of him. He was very strong.
He was such a lovely person. He was the best hugger, you felt like you were hugging the most awesome teddy bear. I remember once I was really, really cold. I was walking in Mitchum. I thought if I see E, he would give me a hug and warm me up.

I really, really wanted him to see his birthday present. I made him a jacket. He would have given me a big hug. Even if you got him an ice cream or a lollipop he would love it because it meant you had thought of him. He appreciated everything you got him. He appreciated every day of his life.

Erkok, I loved you so much. Thank-you for giving me the chance to know you. I’ll never forget you. I’m always going to miss your big hugs. Your high 5’s. Your big, bright smile. No one’s ever gonna call me Tonga or Watermelon Head again.

I miss you very, very much.

@1 year ago

Creative Cultures - an engaging exhibition    

by Saad Al Musawi

An exhibition showing artists from different ethnicities was held between the 3rd and the 31st of July. The Creative Cultures exhibition is run every year directly after Refugee Week by Spectrum Migrant Resource Centre (SMRC).

The 16 artists exhibited this year represented cultural backgrounds including Sudanese, Congolese, Thai, Irish, Vietnamese, Malaysian, Libyan, Iraqi, Turkish, Lebanese, Iranian, and Pakistani.

There are three objectives behind the ‘Creative Cultures’ Art exhibition. Firstly it aims to increase the profile of individual artists from new and emerging communities who would otherwise not have an opportunity to promote their work. Additionally it hopes to engage sectors of society who may maintain stereotypes and negative perceptions about new arrivals, and works to break down these discriminatory attitudes through art.

In this year’s exhibition the artists used different mediums such as painting, drawing, print making, multimedia and sculpture.

SMRC’S Community Engagement facilitator Carlene Lamanna said, ‘We are very proud to present this collection of work by local migrant and refugee artists to demonstrate the amazing creativity that Australia is benefiting from…’

‘Creative Cultures’ engages passers-by in the exhibition because of its central location. It has the ability to attract the interest of sectors in the community who would not usually engage with multiculturalism or art. SMRC see this as a valuable opportunity to break down stereotypes associated with newly arrived communities, especially in the current immigration context.

Creative Cultures is a great opportunity to experience artists’ works from a range of ethnic backgrounds.


Creative Cultures exhibition is held every year on Collins Street, Level 5, Australia On Collins, from the 3rd till the 31st of July.

@4 years ago

After Hours Fashion With A Conscience

by Kat Moore

Melbourne Central’s Level 1 Bridge was aglow after hours on Friday 16th of July, as The Social Studio presented a fashion parade showcasing their first collection, TSS1.
Using only recycled and surplus materials, the Social Studio’s young trainees have created an original collection, which made its debut at the RISE Festival in May this year.
Usually well known as a consumer’s paradise, the shopping centre has recently played host to some less conventional events a part of the State of Design Festival.
Held on the Lonsdale St bridges, the festival presented a number of sustainability- and design-oriented evenings, one of which was the fashion parade.
The parade marked the opening night of The Social Studio’s retail installation, “No Fixed Address”, also featuring two pedal-powered pop-up retail carts, which have since been appearing at locations around inner Melbourne.
“No Fixed Address” was designed to encourage shoppers to question the conventional retail model usually prevalent in Shopping Centres, suggesting the possibility of an alternative.
Spectators and supporters lined the bridge as The Social Studio’s models showed off the collection in front of neon signs advertising Borders and Hoyts, juxtaposing the Studio’s strong reuse and remix ethos with the traditionally consumerist culture of the Shopping Centre.
The night was a huge success, enjoyed immensely both by spectators and those behind the scenes, and was a fitting launch for an exciting and stimulating installation.

@4 years ago

Refugees of Yarra still face discouraging facts about employment in Australia

by Mia Paramashinta


Australian residents who have come here as refugees or asylum seekers, and have good English and local qualifications, have no guarantee of employment. In fact, often it is not easy to gain permanent employment that matches their professional skills.
Boy and Majak, two young gentlemen from Sudan who came to Australia under the Humanitarian Visa are facing what has become a common experience for skilled refugees. They both speak English well and have finished their diplomas of Information Technology from Victoria University. Ideally there should not be too many difficulties in gaining employment.
“I am trying to figure out what makes it difficult for me to get the job. What I have (now) is not overseas qualification, it is a qualification which was I gained from Australian institution. It should have been easier for me to get the job but that (is) still harder and harder (to find jobs). So it is hard to tell,” said Boy.
He also added, “I thought that maybe it could be some sort of – you know – race issue or human rights issue.”
According to Gavin Ackerly– manager at Asylum Seekers Resource Centre (ASRC) – English is only a small part of the issue.

Generally - a lack of Australian qualifications or recognised international qualifications and a lack of work experience in Australia are the biggest problems.
“There are a lot more barriers that refugees face, like lack of networks, which is really big one. Sixty to seventy per cent of jobs are coming from someone knowing somebody. Networking is a big issue. That’s about refugees being accepted into the community,” said Ackerly.
Since ASRC started providing services for asylum seekers and refugees in transition* under its employment program, Asylum Seeker Service for Employment and Training (ASSET), the success rate of the program has increased to fifty per cent.
He also added that it is essential to understand the Australian system, which might be confusing and very difficult for people from non-English speaking backgrounds to navigate. “The reason is Australian bosses. We are quite an isolated country… In Australia; this whole movement of people from Africa is really recent for our country compared to others. So bosses are just not sure what the standards are… so they will make the decision to not take the risk (of employing people from other cultures).”

The main issue facing refugees trying to gain employment doesn’t seem to be a lack of qualifications but rather a lack of trust by the greater community. If all parties involved created an opportunity for communication and learning there might be better opportunities available for everyone.
For more information about ASRC employment and training program, contact employment@asrc.org.au or check http://www.asset.asrc.org.au.

*‘Refugees in transition’ means asylum seekers who have already gained their status as refugees on-shore but are still in a transitional period.

@4 years ago with 1 note

Starting Life Over From Zero

by Anna Tuong

My name is Anna Tuong. This is my story of escape from Vietnam.
I was born in Vietnam (South Saigon). I am from an educated, middle class family. I am one of 11 children and I am in the middle. When I was 17 I started studying dental nursing and I worked for my father who is a dentist.
In 1975, I will never forget it. In South Vietnam, soldiers with weapons tried to protect the country against the Communist fighters. In April, despite the soldiers’ efforts, Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, was captured by the communists and the South Vietnamese government collapsed. After the fall of Saigon, Vietnamese people who had worked for either the South Vietnamese government or the Americans feared persecution by the Communists if they remained in Vietnam. Thousands of soldiers, including my husband, were killed and the ships were destroyed. My husband’s ship went down because of the bombing and all onboard were killed.
After 1975 the Vietnam War had devastated the whole country. Oh! Saigon, my beautiful home town, was not there any more.
In 1978, the Communist government was allowing people to leave. The door opened and many husbands and wives discussed the possibility of leaving Vietnam for the new life in another country. In order to get there, families needed gold or American dollars to pay boat owners and fluctuating prices meant the payment could be a great deal more or less depending on the value of the American dollar and gold prices. Negotiations to take whole families and pay later (after arrival in a new country) failed. Most boat owners would agree to take only one parent and one child, leaving the remaining family behind as security against the repayment of the loan.
We had to pay for the communist government too. This meant if we left the country, we had to sign all of our possessions over to the government including our gold, our houses, our cars, whatever we had.
There were many restless days and nights spent by people in South Vietnam talking about their children’s’ futures. How many years would they be separated? Would they ever see each other again? Would they be accepted in the new country? And how long would it take to save and repay the loan?
Many people were deeply in love and with children that they both cherished. It was one of the hardest decisions to ever be made.
We left South Vietnam, on an old fishing boat made of timber and there were more than 250 people, and the vessel measured just eight metres by three metres wide. It was a difficult journey, men were put at the bottom of the boat to sit or squat on the floor. Women and children were put on the top deck as seasickness affected them more than the others. We were in that small boat for 15 days. I had many experiences while we were on the boat, there were many big waves and I got very seasick. I was only half conscious when suddenly my older brother said to us “Take care, there is a strange boat coming near our boat, it might be pirates!”
I was looking for my son to hold, he was only 3½ years old at the time. I found him and soon after I heard someone jump onto the boat and yell “Take all of your money and jewelry out!” They spoke their own language but we guessed the meaning. I was frightened and thought “Are they going to hurt us?”
The pirate saw I was holding my baby so he just took our things and walked away. He did not hurt us. Soon the pirates were all finished stealing from us and left the boat. But that was not the end of pirates.
Soon after a second boat came in to do the same thing… three boats… four boats… five boats… six boats… seven boats…


“The pirates were ruthless.


The pirates were ruthless. They checked everyone – everywhere looking for valuables. One middle aged man had a full set of gold crowns. They cut out each tooth, one by one with a knife. They just wanted to take all our gold. They would rip off the women’s clothes and violently probe their vaginas to see if they were hiding anything like diamonds, American dollars… anything! They did it quickly in case any boats would come past and potentially report their invasion of our boat. They did not care for human life.
When the eighth boat came - they had nothing to take- we had nothing left. They checked everywhere, looking for gold and diamonds, even inside our ears. They started looking for girls to have “SEX”. We all lay on the decks, praying for our lives and hope we don’t getting hurt. They were attacking the young girls, I was worried because I was by myself with my son. Luckily next to me was an old gentleman. I asked him to please help and pretend to be my husband. The nice gentleman said “Make your hair messy and cover your face and put your head on my shoulder. So we look like wife and husband.” The pirate walked past us and the gentleman signaled that we were married so that the pirates wouldn’t take me off the boat. The pirates took a young girl, we never saw her again. I thought “Oh please God help her.”
There was little food available for the whole ship but because of seasickness, most people drank only water for eight days and nine nights until the boat disembarked.
One day, there was a terrible storm. I cannot remember when the engine broke but the boat just floated, with the waves going up and down. All the people on the boat started praying, we thought it might sink. I remember my grandfather said “That’s it, all my family finished.”
…. Luckily, a few hours later, the sea became calm again.
My family left Vietnam, including my grandfather, my mother and father, all my sisters and brothers AND my uncle with six children managed to escape together on the same boat.
We arrived in Indonesia and had to stay at a refugee camp for 1½ years. After that we came to Australia, all my family - we were finally safe and ready to start over again from zero.

@4 years ago with 1 note