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This year’s theme is “Finding Freedom”. To live without the fear of war, to have your basic human rights upheld, to live in equality and without the fear of persecution are just some of the examples of what freedom can entail. Every day, millions of people across the world embark on dangerous journeys for the sole purpose of finding safety and freedom. From Australia to nations across the globe, settling into a new environment after experiencing the perils of a refugee’s journey can also provide the opportunity to live, to love and to dream. Let us show compassion and celebrate the resilience that makes up parts of our wider community. For freedom should not be an ask, it should be a way of life. Ibrahim Ali’s Story: It has been quite a journey from Ethiopia to Australia, with no English, to become a part of society here. Freedom for me is to express myself the way I want. Freedom of expression is the most important aspect which allows me to share my political, social, and religious views without fear. Australia is the country where I feel that I am part of the conversation. A fair go is the spirit of Australia as a country and fairness should be for everyone, including refugees. We require skilled migrants, while thousands of refugees are not given a ‘fair go’. They come with skills and motivation, but the system creates hurdles to them using their potential. (Source: Fr Andrew Hamilton writes in Australian Catholic: When we meet people who are held in detention in Australia after claiming protection, some incarcerated for many years, we witness how lack of freedom corrodes people’s spirits. To be separated from your wife and small children, to be unable to help them in their poverty and fear for their lives, to blame yourself, and perhaps be blamed by them, because you are not there for them, to relive in the small hours of the morning the terror and perhaps torture you have suffered before fleeing, to wait endlessly for the result of administrative processes that seem lacking in justice, to spend week after week, month after month and year after year in a world without trees, without flowers, without animals, but only fences after fences, gates after gates clanging shut, concrete paths after concrete paths, to be kept alive but excluded from life, to grow distant from those whom you love and are loved by, to grow older and to lose hope day by day – this is the life of many refugees. It is no wonder that when people who are free asked you what you pray for, you would answer in one word: ‘freedom’.


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