I've watched the sun set over the Alhambra, booked tickets to Barcelona to spend my 21st birthday and shed a tear or two moving out of my first apartment here into my new student home. The adventures keep rolling and the people are refreshingly sincere. There’s one thing that I’ve learned not only from being here in Spain but of course the incredible month I spent in Darwin that has changed me for good. After all that’s happened I’ve learned down to the moment the value of life and more over other people’s lives.
One of my room mates said to me the other day, People are people, no matter where you go. No matter where you are in the world or what you’re doing. People are people. It's true here in Spain, in Malaga, in Granada, in Sydney, in Darwin and everywhere I've ever been. Through all the culture shock, the differences, the similarities, the language barrier people are people. That's one thing I know is true.
So this post is a bit different from my other notes from Spain. It's not about my drunken nights, my 7am adventures, my first impressions or attempts to speak spanish. This one is for them. The incredible people I met in Darwin who I promised I would never forget. (As a refresher, I spent a month volunteering in a Darwin detention centre running programs for asylum-seekers who were in indefinite detention). People who travelled hundreds and thousands of miles to live, to have a future, only to find their futures caught up amongst barbed wire and politics.
I want to honour all the asylum-seekers I met in Darwin, the volunteers that worked in an incredible program that unfortunately is no longer running. I think a lot about the people I met there, the honesty and dignity with which they were trying to continue to live their lives. After going through so much, it’s that resilience you always hear about but don’t believe often enough.
I’ve set up a fundraising page and connecting blog called Will Travel For Life that is currently in it’s baby stages. This year, through all the traveling I’ll be doing and all the travelers I’ll be meeting I’ll be relating my travels and those I meet back to those asylum-seekers who travel for life. Raising awareness and funds by comparing my own ongoing travels with the reality of theirs.
The charity I’ve chosen is STARTTS which assist newly arrived refugee families and Asylum seekers in Australia. You can find out about the incredible work they do here and here. I will be posting facts and links so you can find out for yourselves what’s really going on.
We all travel for different reasons. We travel for work, for vacation, to discover something new, to visit family, to visit friends, to learn a language, for a challenge, for a change of perspective, to feel alive and for a million different reasons you don’t even discover until you get somewhere.
These people I met in Darwin, these Asylum-seekers travel to live. Simply put, there is no other reason they flee from their own countries, hand over their entire life-savings to a people-smuggler and risk their own lives on a rickety and overcrowded boat never meant to brave the seas. They leave the places they were born, the home they grew up in, the familiar streets, their cultures, communities, relatives because they have a genuine fear for their lives. They travel to live.
When I think about all opportunities I have here and that I’ve had already I can’t wrap my head around the world of difference between their travels and mine. They are incredible people, engineers and teachers, farmers and writers – regardless, they are all people.
So through all the hype, the policies and the playing political football with the lives of these men, these women, these children, these families – I want to share my experience in the hopes it makes a difference. That you know why they travel. They travel for life.