New faces at detention centre
November 8 2015A committed group from St Jude’s in Parkville has begun visiting asylum seekers at the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation (MITA) facility, as part of the parish’s Engaging with the Community program for this year.
Lauren Fraser (pictured above, at right, with Frances Penington), the community engagement worker at St Jude’s, has organised a team of eight volunteers to meet with those living in detention. Visiting in small groups of two to three, they go several times a month. They hope to build trust and develop friendships, showing compassion and care.
Although there are very strict guidelines for visitor access, the group have been able to make good connections with six inmates, allowing further opportunity to visit. During these visits, they play cards and chess, spend time eating together and listening to their stories. When asked about what it has been like to visit, Ms Fraser said, “These people are so hospitable… it’s very humbling.”
While the wait for release into the community seems indefinite for some asylum seekers, the church hopes that by building friendships, it will not only bring hope to their days of waiting, but be a positive foundation for when they are finally released.