A year ago, when I googled playgroups in our area, the one at the Romero Centre was listed as our closest. The timing was wrong for his sleeps back then, but I recently looked into it again. The Romero Centre is a house, just a few streets from here, which supports refugees. The playgroup is all refugee families, and us! He has a great time playing with the kids and the toys. There's a shared morning tea and some craft, and the loveliest atmosphere. Today at playgroup, there was a bag of knitted teddies that the Red Cross had donated for the kids. They were all different and all gorgeous. They insisted that he have one, too (he chose the one with rainbow pants), along with the other kiddies, although I felt a little strange taking something home when we really don't want for anything. It's kind of like a metaphor for how we get involved in things so that we can give/help, and end up taking away much more than we give - a wealth of memories and experiences. And knitted teddies.
The first time we went to the Romero Centre playgroup there were a couple of families that came in a mini-bus from the immigration detention centre near the airport (their minders sat in another room and played with their iPhones). Through a conversation with a little girl, I realised that her family spoke Indonesian (which I learnt in high school and uni - although I remember shamefully little...), and I got to have a chat to her parents, using bits of both languages. It was very special! Made the 7 years of language study completely worthwhile. Seriously! This week I was chatting to the mother again, and she was telling me about their boat journey here from Indonesia. Then, this afternoon, I was listening to more political debate on the radio about 'the boats' which, more than ever, seemed to ignore the complex stories and needs of these vulnerable people. These people who have faces and names and ideas and giggles and kindness and hope. These people are not a 'problem'.
I baked strawberry muffins to take for playgroup morning tea today. They were a hit!