My name is Peta, I am a Gooreng Gooreng / Kabi Kabi woman and also one of the Family Workers here at Bonnie’s.
These last two years have been tough on all of us with this COVID going on!
For me the journey has been very challenging. The only time I got a brief opportunity to return home was for Sorry Business, even though that was only a couple of days. I must say I was fortunate enough on my last trip home to be taken back to country by my big sister to our women place. This gave me time to gather strength and energy from our old people (spiritual ancestors) to get up and go again!
My heart is always yearning to return home to my country, as my Sorry Business is not finished, in some sense it is like a dull ache in my body that I know won’t go away anytime soon, at least not until I finish the unfinished Sorry Business of mine. But for now, in my own space, l ochre up and burn gum leaves, whilst listening for songs from my old people.
People ask what’s really keeping me going? And I say, ‘Well, it’s the love, hope and faith I have for my people and my country, and my culture; and with that it keeps my fire burning!’
I will yarn now about this woman I work with; we will call her Jade! This is a story of Resilience, Culture and Love.
When I first met Jade, she came into our service timbered and worn down. Through our conversation I told her,
“You’re going to be ok you know, you’re at Bonnie’s now; and if you really want this change you will have the strength of 1000 women right behind you , cheering you all the way, I am only here to give you some support and guide you, the rest is up to you!”
Jade is Resilient.
Jade has an Abundance of Self-Determination.
Jade is Beautiful.
Jade is living in a refuge, with her children.
Jade is organising a Diwali celebration at Bonnie’s!
When it came to the day of the Diwali celebrations, I was doing my usual check in with my clients and I went to visit Jade. When I arrived and knocked on the kitchen window to say hello, I could see she was busy cooking up a storm. As I started to leave, she shouted, “Peta! Please make sure you come to Diwali!”
I turned around and replied , “What’s Diwali Bub?”
Jade replied, “Do the Google Peta, it’s big like the Christmas”
“Oh ok” I replied, but as soon as it entered my mind it slipped right out. I got back to my work.
Then late into the afternoon, I was getting ready to knock off when…
“DING DONG!” The sound of the door buzzer echoed through the room and startled me!
I went to the door and there was Jade, standing with a big smile on her face dressed in a beautiful Sari that glimmered in the afternoon sun.
I looked at her in awe.
Jade just smiled and said, “ Peta, it is Diwali time.”
Jade led me to the common room of the refuge, and I joined a couple of colleagues and another resident and sat down. Together we watched Jade and her children perform the Diwali prayer and ceremony. They were all dressed in beautiful traditional clothing. They chanted prayers in their language. And the food was glorious. It was my first time tasting vegan Indian sweets. Jade had been cooking for 3 days straight in the lead up.
This was the first timeI had seen this ceremonial prayer performed in real life and it was a privilege to watch.
But what made this moment even a greater privilege, was that it was Jade’s first time she had led and performed a Diwali ceremony without her husband, without her Dad and without her extended family. It was just Jade, her children and a handful of guests, a handful of people who were meant to be there.
Jade completed her prayer ceremony with her children, we observed and shared in this experience and then we ate, we chatted, laughed, and I may have shed a tear or two!
I felt very proud of Jade and her children, knowing her story and her struggles, and I also know Jade is going to be ok.
Like Jade and for me too, no matter how far we are away from country, we take our culture with us, our culture is a part of our identity. Culture gives us a sense of belonging, a connection to land, a connection to language and most importantly a connection to our true selves. Sometimes culture can be disrupted, but we rise again!
Bonnie’s Support Service is a culture within many cultures. We create space for vulnerable women and children to feel comfortable within ourselves!
For this I am grateful
Bonnie’s is situated on Darung country, and I would like to acknowledge the Dhrung people and elders past and present; on the land in which I work.