It’s good that you cry for us, Margaret. I had to stop crying when I was eight. I’ve forgotten how…Len in Oranges and Sunshine, 2010
I need to hear your voice.
Who am I kidding…I need you here, with me, catching tears as I cry.
Once started, I can’t stop.
I’ve held it in so long, lest I end up deflated, an empty balloon discarded.
I couldn’t write today, or work. There is such a heavy sadness,
I lie in bed and flipped the channels tonight, very rare for me; found a movie that had just started, and couldn’t believe
A social worker from England, Margaret Humpreys, becomes involved, by chance, with a grown victim from a mind blowing atrocity that was hidden from the world for decades. Almost single-handedly, she begins a quest to help children deported from shelters in England to the horrors of primitive, unbearable cruelty in the wilds of Australia, and other far reaches of the world. Margaret was so touched by the first woman’s story that she flew to Australia with her own money, to begin research that would span over twenty three years, amidst death threats, being separated by her own children researching in Australia, and becoming emotionally weakened by the experiences of the children she researched.
No one was talking about it; the deportation of shelter children away from family, country because it was cheaper to send them away than to give them proper care. The mothers were told that the children had been adopted by loving families;the children were told their parents were dead, and that they were going to a special place where they would” pick oranges off of the trees for breakfast, ride horses to school, and the sun would shine every day”. Instead, all of their belongings were taken away, and they were forced into slave labor, torture, abuse, and then forced to “pay back” their “debt” for being “taken care of” by Roman Catholic brothers.
Chicano, some of these children were 4 years old!
The unfolding of the stories of these men who were the main focus, some fifty years old at that point, were so touching, and the relationship of friendship and trust that developed between Margaret and the men, as well as the families when reunited, was heart wrenching.
I just cried off and on during different parts; it was like a part of me rent open, a dam sealed off too long. One man made it clear that he had paid back the ‘home’ for his tools, food and such, he “didn’t owe a thing to anyone”, as the money he earned through slave labor paid for a swimming pool to be put behind the facility they had been forced to build. Every one of them put into servitude until their ‘debt’ was paid back to these charities.
It seems to me that it created a large overflow of revenue for the government, as well as the many charities that were involved, CHARITIES, because there was no real care involved, even the children cooked for the other children (maybe worse than prison food, in that case); how they built a gorgeous facility hand by hand, with little food or water; beat with large clubs or tractor belts, chased down on horseback if they tried to escape. And then, the sexual trauma…
150,000. Children. Children, from 1947 to the 70’s, our time, endured these horrors. How did it go on for so long? If it hadn’t been for Margaret’s love and open heart, this probably never would have surfaced.
I think God led me to this place tonight, because I have been praying for relief, asking about purpose; how I, one person, can make a difference in the unjust atrocity that has become our life, the secret life of so many people here in America, and all over the world, this sin of silence.
When we sit close-mouthed in the midst of injustice, we, by default, condone.
Pray that I will find my voice.
I love you…