Just my story is a film series with a focus on the everyday story of people seeking to make a difference through Social Justice. In so many ways the stories that follow are 'ordinary' - but our ordinary lives are always touched by the extraordinary present to us through the ordinary. When in doubt - share story!
Just my Story Summary
- It’s not the kids – causal factors behind youth homelessness
- Running away – making a difference where you are – in the corporate sector
- One world – every person has a voice and song to sing
- A little help for my friends – Refugees and Asylum Seekers
- Invitation – homelessness, our friends who call the streets home
- Off the bench – homelessness and the importance of community (belonging)
- Jill of all trades – the power of presence in the ordinary of people’s lives
- Uma – solidarity with the people of Timor Leste
- One day I’ll dance at your wedding – respectful, reciprocal relationship with our Indigenous brothers and sisters
- Human shield – the power of non-violence as we stand in solidarity with the victims of war
- I choose to confront it – not walking by on the other side
- Holiday – holiday camps for children from disadvantaged backgrounds
- I’m the Lucky One – the importance of deep respect filled, reciprocal relationships – in this case with the people of Timor Leste
- Walk Gently on the Earth – a beautiful authentic breaking open of Eco-spirituality
Film 1: It’s not the kids
This film explores the complex world of youth homelessness. We follow the story of Carl a young man whose childhood was marked by violence and substance abuse perpetrated upon him by adults who were supposed to be caregivers. In the film we meet Silvana who is typical of thousands of extraordinary carers who can see the innocent child victim within the now rebellious adolescent. Silvana challenges us to reflect on what changes within society whereby we go from a compassionate response to the innocent baby born into poverty to a blame centred response to the same person some ten or so years later? Carl is one of the lucky ones. He has courageously fought his way out of the web of dysfunction that has marked his life and is now achieving his goals. As Carl says, “I just had to keep caring!” This film is an invitation for us all to reflect more deeply on the causal factors behind every story of poverty. As Silvana reflects, “We are all extraordinary! You don’t have to be a supermodel to be a superhero!”
Film 2: Running Away
Through this film we meet Robert Reed a Brisbane based lawyer. After establishing himself as a lawyer Bob found himself frustrated and trapped in a lifestyle that appeared to lack meaning. Seeking to discover who he is meant to be and what he is meant to do he found himself ‘running away’ from Brisbane and the Law. His quest took him to Japan where he discovered the Sacred Run movement. The Sacred Run movement seeks to bring about more balance, perspective and healing to our world. Runners from every culture on the planet, initially led by runners from the Indigenous people of North America run from village to village, community to community carrying a message stick of hope and peace. Bob’s involvement with this movement led him to the realisation that he did not have to run away to make a difference. Upon his return to Brisbane Bob once again got involved with a major legal practice but through this practice has established a series of Community Engagement Programs where workers can make a difference within their local community. “If we all do our part then we will create a more positive and balanced world for all!” This is a powerful film about the journey to great self awareness and the belief that we can all make a difference.
Film 3: One World
One World follows the extraordinary work of Josh on Australia’s Darling Downs. Josh works with school children helping them to ‘find their voice’ through song. The lyrics for ‘One World’ came from the students themselves, “living and giving under the one sun – singers and bringers!” The students wanted to focus on opposites; how we are all different and yet one within the human family. This simple film packs a powerful message of hope; we all have a voice, our voice is worth hearing and together in and through our differences we can make a difference.
Film 4: A Little Help For My Friends
In ‘A little help for my friends’ we meet Liam and Hamid, a young Asylum Seeker. Liam haunted by the plight of Asylum Seekers in Australia set up a drop in centre where people could share story and just enjoy one another’s company. Sadly most Asylum Seekers are escaping from lives of danger and trauma and upon arrival in Australia are treated very poorly by politicians responding to political expediency. Liam shares about the power of “friendship based services”. When asked what would be say to a politician if he were granted five minutes with them, Liam replies that he would only take up one minute and then open up the space for an Asylum Seeker to share story with the politician for it is from “personal connection – one on one” that change begins. As always this film confirms the power of story!
Film 5: Invitation
‘Invitation’ introduces us to three extraordinary people, ‘Old Pete’, Charlie and his wife Cassie. Pete was a homeless man who spent time in a boarding house in inner city Brisbane and would come to Eddie’s Van. Through the community that developed at Eddie’s Van Pete became good friends with Charlie and his future wife Cassie, so much so that they invited him to their wedding. In this film Charlie invites the viewer to reflect on the power of relationship and that he did not see his relationship with ‘Old Pete’ as a “big deal” but as a genuine friendship; Charlie and Cassie wanted their friends and family present at their wedding and ‘Old Pete’ was a friend; end of story. Charlie reflects on the reciprocity of all authentic relationships; we give and we receive. Charlie is aware that he is a ‘guest’ to Pete’s sacred story. The film concludes with Old Pete reminding us that we are all equal and Charlie challenges us who may be tempted just to watch this film and then ‘do nothing’ to “have a crack” – “It’s ok to make mistakes, it is not ok not to have a go!”
Film 6: Off The Bench
Julia, a medical doctor living in Brisbane, invites us through this film to get “off the bench” and to build relationship with the vulnerable of our society. Julia, like so many who share story with the homeless or the refugee does not see herself, “as an extraordinary person!” This film reminds us of the power of presence, of the sharing of story, the building of community and of fidelity in relationship. The homeless come to a van such as Eddie’s Van out of their world of cold, darkness and loneliness looking for companionship and care. In ‘Off the bench’ we meet Annette and Ronnie who share just what the community of welcome, acceptance and care and the fidelity of the volunteers mean to them. Julia has built “life long friendships” with vulnerable people through the sharing of story and just spending time together over a “bad cup of coffee!”
Film 7: Jill of All Trades
In this film we meet Sister Nora Fitzgibbon a Sister of Mercy. Nora reflects on her ministry in the outback town of Roma on the Darling Downs in Queensland. Nora sees herself as the ‘Jill of all trades’ with a ministry of presence to all who come into her day. A powerful section of this film is Nora’s reflection of the ministry of the Sisters of Mercy in Woorabinda – an Aboriginal community west of Rockhampton. Nora’s sense of presence, her profound respect for the dignity of the Aboriginal people of the town all mingled with her remarkable sense of humour endeared her to the local people. Catherine Mcauley would be truly proud of Nora and her fellow Sisters as they stood beside some of Australia’s most fragile people.
Film 8: Uma
Uma is the Timorese word for home. In this film we meet Katrina who spent time as an Edmund Rice volunteer in Timor Leste. During her time there Katrina feel deeply in love with the people there and especially the women who suffered so much hardship. Sometimes in the face of great pain all we can do is listen and be deeply present. Uma is about relationship, about story telling, about growing self awareness, about what ‘home’ truly is and about the impact we can have on the lives of those we meet if we come to their sacred story gently as guest, if we choose to be deeply present and allow our hearts to open in compassion.
Film 9: One day I’ll dance at your wedding
“When you do something kind for the women in the Indigenous community – no matter how small that act is they will often say, ‘One day I’ll dance at your wedding’!” Georgia Harris spent two years as an Edmund Rice volunteer in the Aboriginal community of Cherbourg North-West of Brisbane. In this film Georgia reflects upon the lessons she learnt during her time in Cherbourg, the care she was shown by local elders and her attempt to make a difference through respect filled relationships. Georgia reflects upon the importance of building trust, of deep listening and of the simple little things that indicated that her presence in the Cherbourg community was valued. Georgia reflects, “No, I’m not an extraordinary person, I’m just an ordinary person who took on a new challenge and really enjoyed it!”
Film 10 Human Shield
Through ‘Human Shield’ we meet Donna Mulhearn a young woman from New South Wales in Australia. At the time of the Gulf War (2003), Donna and a small group of courageous people seeking non-violent solutions to world issues placed their bodies on the line in Iraq to protect innocent victims of war. In war it is so often the innocent who suffer most. In the cast of the Iraq war it was the elderly, women and children who suffered because of constant fear, poor sanitary (because sewerage and water treatment plants had been bombed), lack of basic food stuffs, lack of medicine and the bombing of residential housing. This story focuses on real people for in war it is all too easy to hide behind labels and forget the fact that it is innocent people with a name and a story who often suffer and die. Human Shield focuses on the story of ‘Arien’ a young Iraqi girl who was dying from Leukemia the result of depleted uranium the result of the bombing by allied forces. Why is noone listening? Why do we give our power over to ego driven, fear driven, label driven politics and media? It is all too easy to label those we don’t agree with as ‘other’. If each of we ‘ordinary’ people listened to and responded to our call to make a difference our world would know far less pain.
Film 11: I chose to confront it
In this film Anthony Ryan breaks open the story of ‘Terry the bagman’ of the identifies among the homeless of Brisbane city. Anthony is passionate about getting to know the story of another and through story telling to appreciate their life journey and who and what has led them to their present circumstances. Anthony has discovered the extraordinary freedom that one experiences when you are free of labels, can see the dignity of the other and you waste time in sharing story. It is all too easy to ignore so much of what confronts us in the poverty of our world. Anthony seems himself as an ordinary person who has chosen not to ignore the complex questions and issues that are urban homelessness but to spend time with the friends he has made on the streets of Brisbane through deep listening, presence and time wasted.
Film 12: Holiday
Holiday focuses on the wonderful ministry of Edmund Rice Camps. ER Camps focus on the provision of a holiday experience for children from disadvantaged situations. The Coordinator of the Camps, Alice, shares with us the backgrounds of poverty and need that the children come from. Many of the children have experienced a high degree of rejection and so they challenge the young leader who has been assigned to them. The commitment and fidelity of the young adult leaders is extraordinary. They see the beauty within the child, past the acting out, the difficult background story and the layers of hurt. The children are always put first. The leaders see past the labels to the gift and to the story. “Everyone has a special sacred experience and story that is always worth honouring!”
Film 13: I’m the Lucky One
In this film we meet Chris. An Edmund Rice volunteer in Timor Leste Chris made life lasting friendships with the people in the remote villages around Railaco. This film centres on the power of presence in the ordinary and everyday events of life in Timor. True encounter relationships are reciprocal and this is reflected in Chris’ words, “I’m the lucky one!”
Film 14: Walking gently on the Earth
In this film Sean breaks open a beautiful spirituality of being one with the Earth. Sean reflects on the interconnectedness and interdependence of all of life. For Sean it is all about relationship. The film breaks open the importance of being more aware of all of life around us. Sean invites us to engage with the Science of deep ecology and its associate spirituality. The Earth and all upon it is sacred.