The Cockies from Cowra
There are times when you face a room defensive and prepared to be hit only to showered with kindness and humanity. Allen told us about one of those experiences.
Driving into Cowra, he prepared himself, knowing the crowd was likely to be hostile. He had been told in no uncertain terms that he would to need a whip and a chair when speaking to this rural crowd about refugees.
The meeting was an important one for the young Afghani who Allen had with him. Zameer was there to tell his story. The story of his father’s death and his brother’s decapitation. And his long road to Australia, three years of not knowing where he was going or when he would be safe. When kissing him goodbye his mother told him “I would rather know that you are alive somewhere than never see you again and know that you are dead here – you’ve got to go.” Zameer explained that his dearest wish was to hug his mother in Pakistan. He had a bridging visa, he’d been given special permission to go but he had no money.
Allen recalls the cocky up the back who called out in his laid back Australian drawl, “Oh mate… we’d like you to see ya mum, we’re passing the bucket around”. At the end of the evening they’d collected nearly $1,800. The following day the local priest turned up with another two thousand.
Funded by the cockies from Cowra, Zameer and his mum and her four other children travelled to Pakistan to hug each other.
Where Allen had expected to need a ‘chair and a whip’ he found a couch for conversation and the whip around of a hat collecting money so that a boy could see his mum. ‘If those cockies in Cowra are able to do that, then there is hope for us.’