Time has passed too quickly. I am not ready to say goodbye to Darwin - a month seems too short a time for so much to have changed. Volunteering in this detention centre and being able to meet refugees and asylum seekers first hand has broken my heart and built it up more times that I could count. I have learned so much here, about myself and about the lives, stories and humanity of people from parts of the world I have never been and know next to nothing about.
I haven't been able to write for fear of not doing it justice, of not fully or adequately communicating all that I've seen, felt and done here in the last month. This will be a quick post but one I think can summarise the way I feel about the people I've met here who have been nothing short of incredible. These people who came by boat, who risked their lives simply to live and whose friendship I know I will value for the rest of my life. I will not forget the friends I have made, true friends - that I may never see again, that I will never forget.
I'm sitting on a beanbag out on the verandah watching the rain and waiting for the thunderstorm that has been brewing all morning. I've said farewell but only in words and tears - I don't think I realise that I'm leaving for good.
I have so much respect and appreciation for who these people are, their stories and them allowing me to make them laugh, to smile with me, to teach me phrases in their language and let me in. At the same time my emotions are battered and bruised from sudden bouts of sorrow and shock.
On my last day an incredible person that I had met stood on a stairwell above me as I said that I was leaving and spoke words from my favourite book 'The Prophet' by Kahlil Gibran. They stood above me and said, 'Go not yet away from us.'
These words that I recognised and knew so well, spoken by somebody who a month ago had been a complete stranger and so quickly turned into a friend summarises the mix of emotions I have felt being here and doing this volunteer work. As my own words fail me I'd like to turn to Kahlil Gibran, whose words can only nearly do my friends justice.
"Friendship" - extract from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran, published by William Heinemann Ltd: London in 1984 (first published 1926)
"And a youth said, Speak to us of Friendship.
And he answered, saying:
Your friend is your needs answered.
He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving.
And he is your board and your fireside. For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace.
When your friend speaks his mind you fear not the "nay" in your own mind, nor do you withhold the "ay".
And when he is silent your heart ceases not to listen to his heart;
For without words, in friendship, all thoughts, all desires, all expectations are born and shared, with joy that is unclaimed.
When you part from your friend, you grieve not; For that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.
And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.
For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its own mystery is not love but a net cast forth: and only the unprofitable is caught.
And let your best be for your friend.
If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know the flood also.
For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill?
Seek him always with hours to live.
For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness. And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.
For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed."