The student article below follows on from a group of our Year 11 students taking part in the Brisbane Street Retreat held at the end of Week 9 and over the weekend.
We were so very fortunate in attending such an event and each becoming a witness to others' lives. I believe it was a very moving and significant event in their young lives.
Mr Eamon Brown
Assistant Principal - Mission
During my time at Street Retreat I engaged with three different ministries across Brisbane: Brisbane Relief Hub, St Vincent De Paul Society and the Missionaries of Charity. I interacted with many people during the retreat, the volunteers that do the amazing work at the shelters, people that are affected by homelessness or food insecurity, and students and teachers from the Lismore Diocese. Everyone was extremely welcoming and the volunteers and needy people were more than happy to share their experiences with us, which offered a really eye-opening and humbling experience that made me realise how lucky I truly am.
My biggest highlight for the trip was interacting with a man named Dean. He was an ex-military personnel that was affected by food insecurity and was in commission housing. I met him while handing out food packages at the Missionaries of Charity. Dean’s story was something that really touched me and I really empathised with him and his situation, but his resilience and easy going attitude was something that was quite inspiring for me. His belief, although he was going through all these hardships, is that there were people worse off than him. This really made me reflect on all the things I take for granted in my life and what I could be doing in my own local community to help people that are experiencing homelessness or food insecurity.
A challenge that I faced after interacting with all these people that were struggling so greatly, was also finding out that their local community was working against them and making their experiences more difficult. It’s called hostile architecture and it is a purposeful act of creating benches or areas that would be safer spots for people sleeping rough and turning them into a place that is uncomfortable. While walking around the city with Vinnies, they told us that the city put a big concrete block over these vents that blew out warm air, which didn’t seem like a problem to my group. But then they told us that kids my age and younger that are sleeping rough used those vents as a warm place to sleep. This was really disheartening for me because these people were trying to do the best that they could with the limited resources that they had and the council was actively going around and making it harder for them.
The lessons that I learnt on this trip I will carry around with me everywhere. There is always more to a person's story than what we can expect and sitting down or doing a small act of kindness for them, will heavily impact them and us in the best ways possible. I will always remember Dean and his story and even though he was suffering greatly, he was considerate of others and had this belief that yes his situation sucked, but there was someone worse off than him. Due to this, he had to be thankful for the few things he had in life.
I want to thank the school and the Diocese for letting me go on this trip, allowing me to take away memories and experiences that have changed me for the better. I couldn’t recommend this trip more, it is amazing and will really open your eyes not only to the disadvantaged around you but how lucky we are to just have food in our fridges and a roof over our heads.