Humans Of Detention: Entering The World Of Detention Centres
Hear the words of the asylum seekers Australia locked up in Villawood.
The brilliance of the Humans of New York's page is Brandon Stanton's ability to reach into the hearts of people we will never meet and reveal something new. And like any successful project there are spin-offs but the best are those delving into the less fortunate; homeless people, those abandoned by society and asylum seekers. It's so important to hear the voices of refugees in particular because in Australia we're told no because it's an, "operational matter." Humans of Detention aims to bring the voices of the refugees in Villawood to the fore. This is not the first time Pilerats has written about Villawood, a two-part piece was published on the experience of visiting the detention centre which you can read HERE and HERE. Humans of Detention is very similar to a group, Behind The Wire, mentioned in 'A Visit To Villawood Part 2' as it also aims to tell the stories of those held in this camp. One of the most powerful excerpts of the Villawood experiences published on the site was how the children on Nauru wouldn't go to school but instead watch aeroplanes fly over all day, a thought also echoed on the Humans of Detention page:
"Nauru is a very tiny island that's very hot, about 45 degrees every day. The detention centre is between two big hills with no air. People live in tents. Everyone is sad. You see people crying every day. Young kids wave hopefully at aeroplanes. But there is no hope. Kids shouldn't be treated that way; kids should be kids."
Artwork by Miriam Badger
"In 2011, the militia took control of the area we were living in. They were trying to gain control of the whole province. In around the middle of 2011, my mother was approached at home by men from the militia. They told her that they needed to recruit you men and women to work with them. They needed the young men to fight, and the young women to cook, clean and help look after injured fighters. My mother refused to give any of us to them. She told them that my brothers were too young and that she would not let them take her only daughter. They told my mother that she did not have a choice because this was not an offer; they told her that if we didn't volunteer ourselves, we would be taken forcefully. I was at when this conversation took place.
That night, my house was raided by men who were armed and had their faces covered. My mother and brothers were powerless and couldn't prevent me from being taken. My mother was screaming and crying as they took me away. I was blindfolded and taken to a car. There were other girls in the car with me. The next morning when my blindfold was removed, I saw armed men everywhere. I could see that we were in a hospital, and I knew that I had been taken. I was around 14 years old at this time."
Artwork by Eloise McCrea-Steele
"Who is going to feed the kids? It's not about the financials it's about the emotional stuff. The guards tried to convince me to forget my own daughter, to go back to Lebanon. I am not worried about myself, I'm worried about my daughter. I am worried for my wife who's seven months pregnant. I am worried about the masses of people indefinitely locked up in here."
Artwork by Sparrow Holmes
"My parents told me leave because my father was a policeman and I had been kidnapped two times. I was kidnapped as a threat to my father, so he would stop working for the government.
I left when I was seventeen; my father gave me a fake passport and told me to run."
Artwork by Rebecca Yan
"Here in detention in Australia, our days drag on, and our nights turn into day. It is so hard for us to find sleep. On a usual day, we will get to sleep as late as 3am, 4am, 5am.
We are always asked what we do while we stay awake. I tell them this is when we think."
Artwork by Miri Badger
"In Australia, I'm not free, but still I am safe. I am not worried about anyone physically hurting me every second. They are killing us in a different way, mentally. Back home I would have been killed straight away.
I am here in Villawood Detention Centre. I have nothing else to think about, nothing to do. And the memories keep coming up. It doesn't go away. If I were free I might be able to with them but like me, the memories are still here."
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