Refugee Week is very meaningful to us at Cedars especially as we think back over the past eight years. There have been many happy, grateful tears as well as tears of empathy that have fallen since then.
In 2012 our Principal Mr Walton was so moved by the plight of refugees in our community that he initiated a program where Cedars would offer large scholarships to 25 students per year from a refugee background to give their children a Christian education, realising that this was out of their reach.
As Mr Walton pored over applications and saw photos of children in the war torn countries their families had escaped from, his heart was moved even more. When he began to meet with the families he noticed how different the children looked from their photos. They were happier, healthier and he saw hope in their eyes. They had found a home in Australia that had taken them in and offered them refuge and a new life full of promise.
As parents came in to the school many were so grateful to be offered this opportunity for their children to be given a Christian education, that they had tears streaming down their faces as they graciously accepted the offer.
One family who was so deeply impacted by this gift of Christian schooling for their 5 boys, they came back to the school with a gift for Cedars after one of their sons, Jean Marc, graduated and received his Australian citizenship certificate (photo above). To see his story go to our website here: https://cedars.nsw.edu.au/student-case-studies/jean-mark-bukasa/
The tears that have fallen have not only come from grateful parents, they have fallen as our community has empathised, hearing story after story of pain, loss, hunger and affliction that we as Australians have never experienced, or certainly not experienced to that extent.
Since the program was started we have had many students attend from countries including Liberia, Burma, the Dominican Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone and Ghana.
As a school community we have benefitted as much if not more than the refugee families who have been given the opportunity to attend Cedars. Each one has opened our eyes and our hearts to the plight of refugees and have given our students a world view that can only come from being touched by their lives.
So this week, we remember and are so very grateful to those lives that have deeply touched ours.