The Parkes Rotary Club has embraced this year’s Australia Day theme of Reflect, Respect, Celebrate in a very special way by recording six Youtube episodes featuring members of the Parkes multicultural community.
Maureen Ilechukwu from Nigeria, Nin Mao from Cambodia, Beto da Silva from Brazil, Nancy Cayo from Peru, Roel ten Cate from the Netherlands and Stan Adamski from Poland opened their homes to Rotary member Ian Freestone who filmed and conducted the interviews.
They talked about their struggles when they first arrived, their experiences of inclusion and exclusion, the love they have for their adopted homeland (as well as their country of origin), and their hopes for the future.
“While they are six very different people geographically, in age, socio-economic backgrounds and origins, they are all very grateful to be here and they are very proud Australians,” said Ian. “They had all found Australia to be very welcoming and had found acceptance in their new homeland.
“They all spoke very honourably of their own culture and they are very proud of their heritage. Each one has a unique history.”
There is Stan’s parents who came to Australia after surviving World War II to live in tents along the railways in the Central West while his dad worked as a fettler, to Nin’s mum who fled from the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia when she was only 12 and then had to look after herself.
Ian said he was moved after each interview by their resilience and what they’d achieved for themselves and their children. “It made me realise the depth that immigrants bring to our country.”
He said in return each interviewee felt very special to be able to tell their story.” I could see the appreciation in their eyes.” He said he hoped the videos would become part of their history and the story they tell.
Ian, who lives in Sydney, met Parkes Rotary President Robert Shore on a birding trip in Tasmania. Ian is a life coach, and also makes documentaries and loves capturing life giving stories. Robert approached him to make content for Rotary meetings that could be accessed by any club not able to find regular speakers.
When the Parkes club received a grant from the Australia Day National Council, Robert asked Ian to make a series for Australia Day. The series of six videos, each about 30 minutes long, will be launched on 26th January on YouTube. Simply search for ‘Parkes Rotary’ on YouTube.
By Maggi Barnard