Author Ann Mari Jordens at her home in Red Hill. She has written a book about refugees entitled Hope. Photo: Graham Tidy
Between the covers of local author Ann-Mari Jordens’ book Hope are so many stories that are nothing short of heartbreaking.
There’s the story of the Jewish man crying when accepting his grandmother’s Star of David from a German family who had helped her, the woman being one who committed suicide when life on the run became unbearable. There’s the story of a boy, studying English at the CIT, who was unable to cope with a picture of a ladder because it triggered memories of hours of torture by being hung by his arms from a ladder. And there’s the story of a Department of Immigration worker faced with the harrowing task of visiting camps in Africa, listening to tales of rape and trauma every day from the masses, some of them huddled under plastic, every one of them capable of meeting the criteria of a refugee, and she had to decided which of them would make it into the 16,000 who could be part of the 2002-05 intake.
”There was nothing alive because they had tried to eat it. There were no trees because they had had to burn them for cooking whatever they could find,” Jordens said. ”One thing I think we all forget is how traumatic it was for [the worker] and her staff … she had to choose [among the people]. It’s a very difficult job immigration departments do.”
Her tome, to be launched today, is the product of seven years of work. It is made up of the stories of local refugees and those who help and support them. She took care when interviewing her subjects not to re-traumatise them.
”I was anxious to support them through the process. The main thing I felt was admiration: they are people of courage. I am not sure if I were faced with the circumstances a lot of them were faced with, whether I would have the same sort of courage and hope.”
? The launch of Hope: Refugees and Their Supporters in Australia since 1947 by Ann-Mari Jordens is on today, during Refugee Week. From 6pm at the National Library, including refreshments and a book signing. For bookings: events.nla.gov.au or 6262 1271.