Friday, October 11, 2013

Sydney Bridge Climb and Oz Jetboat

This blog post is definitely a bit late, but I have to write about it.  The weekend before break we had our bridge climb weekend with Rayna and Jason.  This weekend was filled with a lot of good times with the group and facing a lot of fears.
                Kate, Caroline, Brittany, and I went up a day early and stayed at Home Backpackers.  I do not really like this hostel.  The sinks and bathrooms are too small.  That night we went to the O-Bar and got a drink.  The O-bar is a bar that is on the 47th floor of a circular sky scraper in Sydney.  The floor rotates in a circle so you can see a huge panoramic view of Sydney without having to move from your seat.  Our waitress at the bar was American.  She studied abroad and then came back because she felt she did not get to see everything she wanted too.  I sure hope we get to see everything we want too.

                The next morning we went to Paddy’s Market.  I went and bought souvenirs that were hand-painted by an Aboriginal tribe.  After doing some shopping the other half of the group arrived and we met them at the YHA backpackers that Rayna and Jason had arranged for us by taking the free Sydney bus.  We grabbed some lunch then all met back up at the Sydney Bridge Climb headquarters.  Here we suited up into our jumpers, harnesses, and radios.  We were then given a training session on how to climb the four ladders it takes to get up to the steps of the bridge.  I hate ladders but these were not that bad because there was room for your whole foot to fit.  We then made the climb.  The climb is 3 ½ hours long and is 1,332 steps.  You stop a lot along the way to enjoy the view and for pictures.  Pictures are taken by your guide and available for purchase at the end.  They are expensive.  We just took a picture of the screen that you could view them on while waiting in line for purchase.  Also, you are given a free group picture and certificate at the end of the climb.  The climb is absolutely amazing, a bit scary at times, and well worth it.

                After the climb we showered and met on the roof of the YHA for drinks and snacks with Rayna and Jason.  The roof had a beautiful view of the Opera House and the bridge.  We then all went to dinner at a place beside the YHA.  I split a seafood pizza with Chloe.  I have a new love for seafood and seafood on pizza.  This pizza had prawns (shrimp), salmon, and something else.  It was delicious.  I then went and got the PACHA or Ivy experience with Kate, Caroline, James, and Brittany.  The Ivy is a popular club with dancers, multiple floors, multiple DJs, and multiple rooms.  This all made for a really good night in Sydney.

                The next morning we did a stunt jet boat ride in Sydney Harbor.  I was more scared of this than the Bridge Climb since I hate roller coasters.  After wanting to panic initially it turned out to be really pretty and fun.  We went over a lot of waves where the boat went airborne and landed.  He thankfully warned us about the 360 spins.  He made them feel even more dangerous by making the nose go around buoys in the water. I actually would do another stunt jet boat ride.

                This weekend is one of the reasons I am glad I chose to go to Newcastle over Bond.  The Bridge Climb, jet boat, and night at the super nice YHA was paid for by my tuition. 

Refugee Ilead Speaker

A good while back, I went to a seminar about refugees for Ilead.  It really changed my views on immigration even illegal immigration.
                The seminar started with speaker, Dr. Murray Webber,  talking about statistics of refugees or asylum seekers in each country and definitions of terms that would be used throughout the night.  Refer to the image below for definitions.  Australia is 52nd  in helping refugees but US is 9thThe treatment to refugees in these countries is not the best. 
              The next speaker, Sister Di Santalben, spoke about different refugees she had helped and what made her get involved. A friend of hers brought her into a hospital that was treating a man who had been locked up in detention.  This man was scrunched up in a fetal positioned and had been in this position for the past four years.  At his bed watching over him were two armed body guards.  One Afghan woman she helped had been held in detention with her husband for four years.  While in detention she noticed her husband becoming ill.  To boost his moral she had him make clothes out of the bed sheets because he was a tailor back in Afghanistan.  This past month she visited an Afghan woman who had found a home through government immigration.  The home was in horrible condition and very unsafe for her four children.  There was an electrical cord hanging loosely within their reach, a black swimming pool with flies swarming around it, and one toilet that did not work.  These were just a few problems.  Sister Di Santalben took pictures and emailed Australia’s head of immigration and other government officials to give the Afghan woman her money back and move her into a better place to stay by midday or these pictures were going in the paper. The family was relocated by 10AM that day.
                The next speaker, , was a refugee himself.   He spoke of his long track to Australia.  He was a well off young man in Congo until the war in Congo started.  He tried getting to Zamia to seek refuge by boat.  Everyone but him and a friend were shot dead in the boat. They were not killed because they laid down and got buried under the dead bodies as they fell upon them.  Some people found him and took him to a refugee camp in Kenya.  The camp was heaven during the day but hell at night.  The police at night would take off their uniforms and rape the women and torture the man.  One man got killed and stripped of all of his belongings for responding to his wife’s screams.  Even though he called it heaven during the day everyone was still fed little food and provided little clothes.  No one really had many things to do to occupy themselves.  This led to a lot of children being born in the camp.  He finally was freed from the camp and taken from Kenya, Bangkok, to Beijing, and finally to Australia.  In Australia he has set up a successful life of helping other refugees and preaching.
                Another boy named Matt spoke about  his work with the Salvation Army at Nauru and Manas Island.  These are refugee camps of Australia.  He called these two islands the “furthest place from anywhere while being somewhere.” The supplies and treatment on these islands are low.  There is not enough efficient clothing and only 3 washing machines for every 300 men.  Matt while volunteering developed a boil the size of tennis ball on the back of his neck and was only given Benadryl for treatment.  Think of what the refugees must have been receiving. 

                Knowing all of this has made me think.  It seems to me it would just be easier to help the refugees than persecute them.  Back home they likely have a family who is starving and near death because they scrounged up enough money to send one of their children to a better life.