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The Southern Cross : December 2011
December 2011 Page 3 www.thesoutherncross.org.au The Southern Cross news | This Christmas will have new meaning for Farhad's young refugee family from Iran. Farhad, Parisa and their seven-year-old son Iliya will celebrate Christmas on the Australian mainland for the first time on December 25 with Mass at St Augustine's Church, in Salisbury. Their last Christmas was spent in detention at Christmas Island after making the dangerous journey by boat from Indonesia. Despite fearing for their lives during the two week voyage to Australia, they say they were the lucky ones. Theirs was the vessel to arrive before the infamous Siev 221 -- the boat which sank off Christmas Island on December 10 killing at least 30 refugees. The family was released from the Inverbrackie detention facility in the Adelaide Hills several months ago after being detained at Christmas Island for three months. "Last Christmas we were in the camp and this Christmas we are free," said Farhad whose wife Parisa is expecting their second child in April. The Salisbury Parish's Margaret Wooley has been helping the family make a fresh start in Australia. "They are such lovely, hospitable people and they will share with you the only little bit of what they have," she says. "They are a lovely family and they are really trying hard to make a go of it." In his Christmas message, Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson says the festive season is a time of prayer for peace and unity in countries experiencing war and tyranny. "For those people fleeing such countries, the Christmas story should be a time of hope for them as we open up our hearts and offer them refuge," he said. Across South Australia this Christmas, there are thousands of refugees, men, women and children who are homeless and isolated, some are suffering mental health problems, addictions or are fleeing violence from their own homes and countries. "Christmas is about ensuring that there is a place laid at the table for everyone who needs us," says the Hutt St Centre's Danielle Bayard. The Hutt St Centre, in the city, is expecting 160 homeless people for Christmas day breakfast and a traditional festive lunch. Gifts will be given and volunteers and visitors will also help celebrate the day. Prison chaplain Mel Monfries says some of the State's most vulnerable at Christmas are those in our gaols. "It is a very difficult time for them as many feel their absence from their families and also recognise the strain their time in prison places on the family." Ms Monfries will take part in a Christmas Worship Service at Yatala Labour Prison on Christmas Day. At Catherine House, up to 47 women at risk of homelessness will take part in a gift giving ceremony on Christmas morning followed by a sit-down Christmas lunch. At the Vincentian Centre in Whitmore Square, more than 35 homeless men will celebrate Christmas Day with a traditional roast dinner and donated gifts. The gifts will each have a handmade card written by students from St Joseph's Primary School in Ottoway. "Many of the men have children, but for one reason or another they cannot spend this special day with them, but to receive a card from an anonymous youngster, showing that people do care, is something very special indeed and have brought some tears," says Mike Wockel, director of Homeless Persons Accommodation Services St Vincent de Paul Society (SA) Inc. "It is our experience that the men spending Christmas with us are truly those that have no-one else." • To make a donation to the St Vincent de Paul 2011 Christmas Appeal visit www.vinnies.org.au, call 13 18 12, or donate at any Vinnies Centre nationwide or through your local parish. • Donations to the Hutt St Centre Christmas Appeal can be made at www.huttstcentre.org.au/news-events/ christmas, or call 8418 2509, or by cheque to the Hutt St Centre, 258 Hutt St, Adelaide 5000. Rebecca DiGirolamo Room for three more CHRISTMAS STORY: Salisbury parishioner Margaret Wooley will spend this Christmas morning with Iranian refugees Fahad, Parisa and Iliya celebrating Mass just over a year from the day they were detained at Christmas Island. Australia Day Mass Thursday, January 26, 2012 8.30am St Francis Xavier's Cathedral WakeÞeld Street, Adelaide Celebrant: Archbishop Philip Wilson DD JCL This Christmas, more than 40 Catholic parishes, schools, and welfare agencies will hand deliver emergency food hampers to hundreds of needy people and families across South Australia. Foodbank marketing manager Daniel Hall said 26 St Vincent de Paul Society (SVDP) groups across the State were among the Catholic agencies involved in the charity's Christmas Hampers Program, which this year expects to help 40,000 disadvantaged South Australians. Margaret Kiely said the Brighton SVDP conference had been delivering the Christmas hampers to clients for the past four years. She said this Christmas, a delivery of about 50 hampers would be made to families and people doing it tough in the Brighton area. She said demand for the emergency food relief over Christmas in the southern seaside suburb has steadily increased over the past two years. "I think it gets very difficult for people and I think it will be even more so this year," said Mrs Kiely. "Life seems to be getting harder for people." Since October, more than 250 volunteers have been packing 10,000 hampers for collection at the Edwardstown Foodbank warehouse. Foodbank is a non- denominational, charitable organisation which sources donated and surplus food from the food and grocery industry to distribute to welfare and community agencies that provide food assistance to people in need. Mr Hall said the Christmas Hamper program began 12 years ago, producing 800 hampers in its first year and doubling in size the year after. He said the program reduced the workload and costs for welfare and church groups. "It frees up their staff, volunteers and resources to focus on service delivery of their important community support." Mr Hall said many of the emergency food outlets across the state were closed for a week over Christmas and New Year, leaving some families stranded without food during what should be a festive time. "Everyone deserves a good Christmas," he said. To donate or order a hamper visit www.fbsa.com.au. Christmas for everyone Rebecca DiGirolamo