So Judge Me #6 – My Son Did Work Experience At Gatehouse!

IMG_0567

My oldest son was totally unprepared for his upcoming weeks of compulsory work experience. We had hooked up one week with a mechanic at Toyota, but he hadn’t shown a whole lot of gumption in arranging his second week of experience. So I suggested he spend the second week with me at Gatehouse. He flatly refused at first. But then, as the idea began to take form, and the empty week began to loom, he agreed.

He couldn’t eat breakfast on his first day. He was dreadfully nervous. And I guess I should have been a little more understanding as it is not a typical day for a school kid, to be hanging out in the heart of Melbourne’s Red Light district, with a bunch of women who work, and sometimes even sleep rough, there. However, I reminded my son that he has always visited prisons and helped support ex-offenders in the community, and that our women are pretty much the same, many of them having been prisoners in the past.

I had to run my son through our volunteer training program, and this is when I realised the unique opportunity which had presented itself to instill and reinforce in my son a respect for all women – a rare opportunity in this day of on-line pornography, continuing objectification of women, and extreme violence towards women which exists in our entrenched paternalistic society.

And then I took him across the road to the drop in centre. It was cosy on that cold June day. Food on the tables. Big inviting couches and smiling faces. Babies. Laughter. I saw my son begin to relate and relax. Gatehouse was working its unique magic on him.

He had a wonderful week. He encountered many people who warmly welcomed him. But, best of all, was the feedback I received from my son and from the clients. On his last day, as we walked away to our car, he said, “There really are so many good people in the world, aren’t there, mum?” Then yesterday, one of our women approached me and said, “You have done such a great job with your son. He was so polite and respectful. I wouldn’t expect that from a teen-aged boy. And…” she added with a cheeky smile, “…he’s very good looking.”

 

Advertisements

So Judge Me #5: Why do I Blog?

This month has been quite, quite strange, yeah? First, my computer, who we shall call Best Friend, died. Messages about a fatal hard disk issue had popped up for some time and, luckily, I heeded the warnings and copied all my photos and documents before Best Friend passed away.

It is also a month leading up to anniversaries. Around this time last year, we had two of our clients tragically die. Both were bigger than life personalities, who we would see every single day and who considered our drop in center home. I think because they passed so quickly to each other – within three weeks – I have had a lot of trouble processing the grief. I still see them everywhere, reflected in strangers. Or the memory of them in the places they always frequented. I hadn’t factored on the high risk of people dying when I started working at the center, but of course it was always possibly going to happen. The women we work with often get assaulted and live shunned and unprotected, on the edge of society. They are extremely vulnerable.

Then I got a little sick. I contracted Pityriasis Rosea. It was itchy but not dangerous or highly contagious.

But then, a friend asked me, “Why do you blog?” and, for the life of me, I couldn’t come up with an answer. Is it some strange need to be heard? Do I believe I have ideas or experiences the world needs to share? Is it merely journalling? If so, why journal publicly and not share my most intimate experiences or beliefs? It began to do my head in and I am not sure I have worked it out. But, I think blogging has something to do with having a creative outlet. Hmmm. Not sure! Please let me know why we blog, fellow bloggers.

Anyway, I find I can’t stop. I love to blog and will probably continue until I have nothing more to say.

Blessings and peace.

Babee – Not Just Some Ordinary Domestic Shorthair

IMG_1598I wasn’t absolutely sure I wanted Babee. Thoughts of shredded furniture and steaming wet smelly floors did not sell me the idea of acquiring a pet either. Babee began life attached to the garments of a street sex worker down in St Kilda, which is the heart of Melbourne’s Red Light district. As you can imagine, this was not the life for a tiny kitten and her infant twin sister. This particular worker’s signature look was an array of various unkempt kittens, worn like brooches, on her generous bosom. A local woman rescued Babee and her sister from the worker, as she wasn’t able to properly care for herself, let alone two tiny kittens without their mummy.

Babee is nearly all grown up now and she has, tragically, outlived her first mummy, who died earlier this year from a heroin overdose. May she rest now, in peace, and free from her deadly addiction.

Babee lives on. She is adored and pampered and sniffed – yes, deeply and intoxicatingly – every day. She smells so good. My boys are her avid fans and we miss her when she is out traversing the world, living her Babee adventures.

So Judge Me #1

downloadIt occurred to me today that Jesus can’t have been the perfection-seeking, serious paragon I had always understood him to be. He hung out with sex workers and street people and would have been rejected straight up if he hadn’t cut it.

I hang out with street workers a few days a week in my role as support worker in a drop-in centre for women, and our clients are sweary, brash, naughtily irreverent and very, very funny. They have extremely low self esteem and lives controlled by addiction but they are raw and honest about why they work the streets. I don’t believe they can be so different to the women Jesus hung with. Interesting. Perhaps he preferred interacting with them to the “religious” people, like his disciples, who cared more about how the world perceived them? I know I do.

Old Fashioned Sewing Circles

IMG_0813

IMG_0815IMG_0305 IMG_0542Aren’t these gorgeous? I work with women, two days a week, producing Australian soft toys for disadvantaged kids. Each one uses an Australian aboriginal fabric. We sit around talking about everything – you cannot even begin to imagine… I’m not sure why we have so much fun but we laugh and laugh. They play a game called ‘Make Andie Blush’. It is not hard to win at this game.