Jun 6, 2018
Jennifer Jones lives in Myanmar and co-founded the Room to Grow Foundation. She works with children: Unaccompanied refugee children who have experienced enormous trauma. They have swum rivers while bullets fly overhead. They have worked in factories. They have foraged for discarded cabbage leaves to stay alive.
But their suffering is not the focus of this story. Their strength is the focus.
“Those kids… taught me about strength, about resilience, they taught me about survival, about what it takes to live in a really difficult world. Their parents teach me about what it means to make choices that are more difficult than any I ever have to make in my life. And above all, the dancing teaches me that kids who have gone through these terrible situations can find a moment of joy. Not all of them, not every time. But all that stuff that they’d been through, they could just drop it to be fully immersed in a moment of joy when they got it.”
This is not just a story about dancing with refugee children.
It's about Jennifer's journey away from pity and into a more ethical relationship with people who are in need. It's about white and non-white relations, international NGO work, colonisation and post-colonisation.
It's also a reflection on how a government and media can manipulate a society into believing a certain class of people are not human, such as the Rohingya experiencing genocide in Myanmar, and refugees and asylum seekers trapped in detention centres, like those on Manus Island and Naura in Australia.