What a week. Cyrus’ profile has now gone through the roof, with a full-page edited version of this blog published in Melbourne daily newspaper The Age today. I was also phoned by radio station 3AW for an interview on Denis Walter’s program about our experiences, after he read the story. And kind, generous people continue to come out of the woodwork.
This afternoon, my mother and I went to pick up a second-hand car, which has been purchased for Cyrus’ use – to help him get to and from work more easily – by an extremely generous man who wishes to remain anonymous. Through the sale of the car, other people showed their compassion and kindness, by lowering the price on the car significantly, and waiving various fees, when they heard about the man who would be receiving the car.
Cyrus just arrived home from work and my mum told him a present had come for him, before presenting him with a gift-bag. He looked into the bag and pulled out a set of car keys. He squealed with delight and was grinning from ear to ear as we led him to the driveway, where his gold car sat waiting for him. He was thrilled and said, “Thank you for all things. I came to Australia and found a very nice family. If I didn’t have this family I wouldn’t have a job, or anything. And my English is getting better, too.”
Cyrus continues to work hard at his job, facing different challenges every day, but coping well and making friends. He is a little overwhelmed by the coverage his story is getting, but excited by the publicity of his story and the program. He was very grateful we helped him share his story. Our hope is that through publicising the program, all asylum seekers may benefit from some positive responses in the community, not just Cyrus.
On 3AW today, Denis took some calls after my interview, and it was great to hear the opinions of some people in the community. Unfortunately, one caller in particular broadcast his ignorance on the matter, praising the program, so long as it didn’t help people who had ‘jumped the queue’. This term ‘queue jumpers’ continues to crop up, despite continued efforts to explain that there often are no queues to join. There were also positive responses, including from another Iranian man, who had come here as a refugee himself without family support, and who thought the program had great merit to help asylum seekers integrate – not assimilate, as other callers said – into our community.
I had the fantastic opportunity to discuss our story with a group of wonderful year 6 students yesterday. I was so impressed by their knowledge on the issue, and the compassion and understanding they showed for Cyrus. They were so curious about him and asked some insightful questions, and have left some wonderful comments on this blog. I’m hoping I will be able to return later in the year, this time with Cyrus, to help personalise the issue for them further. It’s so important. They were great, and gave me hope for the future of our society.
It was my birthday earlier this week, and Cyrus tried Mexican food for the first time (I think he really enjoyed it!). He gave me a gorgeous present of a pair of gold earrings, which he had spent weeks organising to be sent by his sister from Iran.
Cyrus continues to work on his English and is getting to know some colloquialisms. In a class recently, he was taught the different between a ‘couch potato’ and a ‘livewire’. I was sitting with him in our loungeroom the other day, with our dog Pepe by my side. He told me, “Pepe is very couch potato.” He catches on quick, our Cyrus.
My mother has been taking him out in our car to practise driving on the left hand side of the road. Unfortunately, the road rules aren’t published on the VicRoads website in Persian, but she’s working on it.
Cyrus said he never used to have any luck back home in Iran, but since leaving, he has felt very lucky on many occasions. He deserves it, and we can only hope it keeps coming, because he could sure use it.