TRAVEL: My day at Bali detention centre

ON the first day of my overseas trip to Bali I visited a detention centre.

It's not the usual thing tourists do when they go to Bali, but it proved to be one of the best things I did in three weeks away from work.

In the otherwise lush surroundings of Jimbaran Bay, with its five-star resorts, fancy restaurants and designer clothes shops, there is a rather stark looking Indonesian detention centre.

The reason for visiting there is rather a long tale, so I'll break it down to this: an Afghani friend of ours in Australia asked us to visit his brothers in Bali, who have been locked up in detention for two years.

These are young men who have been assessed as genuine refugees actually waiting in the 'queue'.

They'd like to come to Australia, but are so desperate to get out they would take any country that would offer them sanctuary.

We turned up to visit these men without an appointment and to my great surprise the Indonesian guards let us see one of the brothers. Can you imagine that happening on Christmas or Manus Island?

Two things really blew me away: The first was the young man had a present for our daughter and the second was the deep sadness in his eyes, even when he was trying to smile.

I know, given his brother in Australia works three jobs to support his family, if these Bali detainees were given a chance they'd be hard working members of our community. Our family has made it a personal goal for 2016 to assist their re-unification.

Topics:  bali lismore

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