A Buderim Based group of Sunshine Coasters who seek to support just treatment for refugees recently hosted an event that created magic for all concerned. 50 clients and staff from Brisbane’s Refugee Claimant Support Group were hosted by 60 locals at a picnic at Cotton Tree Park. The goal was to give a little break, friendship and support to people who live under constant worry and who often feel hopeless and alone. For one day they had a chance to experience delicious food, dancing, music, clowns, art, games, and comradeship.
Special thanks to Merlin (aka John Foley - (Meg’s Dad) for quietly flitting around behind the scenes solving the problem of the broken bus. John turned what could have been a sticky situation into a smooth sail. One of the buses broke down and was 1 and 1/2 hours late. In the course of the afternoon, while everyone else visited, ate, danced and played, John called the Caloundra Catholic perish and was granted the use of their bus. John drove to Caloundra and picked up the bus, and then he drove the busload of visitors down to Brisbane, and returned the bus later that evening. Several Gold Hearts To this man!
Lots of magic happened ...
There was the little boy who spent all day with Maree's dog. Apparently he is very shy and doesn't join in, but he was completely immersed in that dog, smiling and cuddling it.
There was the young mother, a local guest, who later reported, "I didn't have any ideas about refugees. I came along thinking it would be fun and interesting. Then I watched them playing around with the soccer ball, and I just burst into tears."
A special feature was Bob, the artist who is creating a series of Sunshine Coast Life works. He set up a huge canvas, masses of paint tubes and brushes, and buckets of water under a tree. Everyone got to contribute their own design. Originally Bob planned to donate the painting to Buddies as a fund raiser. But it was decided by all that the best was to give it to our Brisbane guests. So the painting went on the bus to Brisbane to hang at the Refugee Claimant Support Group Centre as a beautiful memory of the Big Day Out.
Another momento for the day were wooden hearts inscribed with, "Big Day Out with Buddies, June 16, 2002". A few Buddies painted them and every visitor or family got one to take home, to have a visible memory of a happy day.
After all our considerations about bringing halal food, there were actually no Afghanis amongst the clients. They were from all over the place, Ethiopia, Columbia, El Salvador, Sri Lanka, Iraq.. to name a few. We let everyone know that they are invited to be hosted in our homes at any time. We've had our first call, Indrani and her family have come up for one night.
The magic of the Big Day Out was summed up by one of the Refugee Claimant staff members. When asked, "Do you think this is a successful event for your clients?" she answered, "It's so wonderful to see these people smile."
This article, by Barbara describes Buddies first Big Day Out picnic in 2001. Since then Buddies and right into 2012, Buddies continues to host three of four Big Day Out picnics and other refugee related events per year.
For meeting details or if you would like to explore ways that your friends and colleagues and Buddies might link up, please contact 07 5476 6690.