“Been to the sea-side lately? I live near the sea, so it is something I (almost) take for granted. It worries me that there are people (especially children), even in developed countries, who have never seen the sea; who have never seen the ocean and the wide blue sky overhead.”
I can’t remember how long ago it was that I wrote those words and I am too lazy to search through records to find out. But they popped up in a ‘memory stick’ that I was using for another purpose and I re-read the whole blog entry and thought again on what I had written.
I had written about the sea having the ability to bring refreshment to our souls. I also mentioned the sadness I felt on realising that there are people who never see the sea; who never experience that wonderful feeling of walking along a sandy beach, with sea breezes ruffling hair and skin and seagulls wheeling overhead.
But I am especially now thinking of children.
Sadly there are children who spend their entire lives in cities; some children know nothing but city life – and that can’t be a good thing.
Even more sadly, there are children currently held in immigration detention centres simply because their parents have fled war and terror and have attempted to find a peaceful place for their families to live – to survive.
Any chance of these children frolicking by the sea-side is not even on the radar.
Our Australian government locks them up, behind razor wire in centres resembling prisons.
And I worry about these children. When is it their turn to run along a sandy beach?
To build sandcastles? To gather shells?
To frolic in the sand and waves, calling out to friends?
When is it their turn for the chance to bring refreshment to their little souls?
How can we be part of this terrible cruelty to anyone? And how can we let children be treated like this?
Children belonging to asylum-seeking families are condemned to living a life that no one should have to endure. Sure, I know and understand that there must be some sort of assessment of these refugee families and their reasons for fleeing their country of origin. But how long should that take?
Australia has spent billions of dollars on locking refugees up. Billions, not millions! (Over one billion in this latest financial year alone).Surely a few million dollars could ‘get the ball rolling’ and employ appropriate people to make the assessment process quick and efficient.
Is that too much to ask?
Meanwhile days turn to weeks. And weeks turn to months. And months turn to years and still these children wait for their chance of unrestrained joy; of freedom to be able to play in the presence of nature - at the sea-side or anywhere.
In my opinion, that is every child’s right.