I don’t consider myself as a social activist but when I heard last week that Walk Together would be held again this year – on 22 June 2013, I decided to join again. Last year, a group of us from the church walked from Victoria Square to Elder Park, but this year they changed the route: from the Parliament House over to Rymill Park. This movement (Welcome to Australia) started last year by Brad Chilcott, a church pastor here in Adelaide and it has spread all over Australia now. The aim for the walk is for us to show our love and support towards all migrants and refugees here in Australia. Being a migrant, I know how hard it is to plonk myself out of my own culture and country and replant myself in a foreign setting. It’s even harder when you are forced to get out of your homeland due to war, instability or persecutions …
I encouraged the folks from church to come along as well – but I was doubtful that any would turn up when the day started cold and rainy. My prediction was proven true, as one by one messaged me and said that they wouldn’t come. I thought they had preferred to rest at home rather than walked in the cold, but then I heard that some actually declined because they had wanted to have lunch in the northern suburb instead. That made me a tad disappointed – so they were not afraid of the cold or the rain, they just preferred to eat. Sheesh. Being older and (hopefully) wiser, I have learned not to bring my disappointment, only to adjust my expectation. Too bad some people have lost some brownie points today. 😉
I was quite encouraged that apart from Yani and myself, two members of the church (Vira and Yusak) did turn up and joined us. We walked over to the Parliament House and joined the gathering there. Three more Indonesians (Cendra, Dissa and Artha) came and joined us as well – I was very impressed with the turnout as I thought that only a few people would turn up and brave the weather. The Premier, Jay Weatherill, started the event by delivering his speech in front of the Parliament House before we all walked along North Terrace towards Rymill Park.
On the way, a lady chatted to Artha who carried a sign in Sanskrit, Bhinneka Tunggal Ika. The phrase is actually part of the emblem of the Republic of Indonesia and its meaning is very much relevant to the cause of the walk today – Unity in Diversity. I also came across an Australian gentleman who converted to Sikhism – his outfit was very striking: he was wearing a red turban, a red tshirt with the slogan of the walk: “If we’re all people, we’re all equal”. His white flowing beard created a contrast to his red outfit – so I had quite a chuckle when a group of children asked him where he kept his reindeer. He was very patient in telling them that he wasn’t Father Christmas. 🙂
The weather held up and it was actually quite nice and sunny towards the end of our walk – it was great that Fork on the Road, the organiser of regular foodcart gathering decided to have their event in Rymill Park as well. Although the moody weather meant that some carts pulled out of the event, it was good that my favourite burger joint, Veggie Velo was there. I had my usual deliciously phenomenal haloumi burger that was washed by a large cup of organic free-trade skinny latte. It was quite impressive to see the number of people who turned up and stayed to hear the speeches as well as the cultural shows. The event was MC-ed by Dorinda Haffner, a well-known local celebrity who was originally from Ghana. The Lord Mayor of Adelaide, Stephen Yarwood as well as Ps. Brad Chilcott also delivered their speech – along with a lady from the Afghani Hazara community who shared about her experience in coming to Australia. It was also quite surreal to be standing near the Premier of the State as he was waiting for his Veggie Velo order (it’s good that he has a good taste in food!). 🙂
Yusak, Vira, Yani and I left after we had our lunch and drove over to Goodwood Road to have our coffee and cake afterwards. All in all, I had a great day. It’s good to know that all over Australia, there are a lot of people who care – who are not affected by the scaremongering and sensationalist opinion polls. Unless you have some Aboriginal or Torrest Strait Islander blood in you, we are all permanent visitors here, either as first-generation migrants or the descendants of those settlers. If we have been blessed here, it’s just decent to also give other visitors a chance.