Jour­ney locks it in for oth­ers


Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - East Victoria Park - Natalie Naz­zari

HAIR – we are all born with some and for most of us it will grow back if cut. But grasp­ing the frag­ile ten­drils of an ed­u­ca­tion can be much more elu­sive, es­pe­cially for the chil­dren of refugees.

Millen Pri­mary School stu­dent Jour­ney was eas­ily recog­nis­able by his ex­traor­di­nar­ily long hair, go­ing with­out a hair­cut for at least three years, but on Oc­to­ber 23 the 11-year-old al­lowed it to be shaved off to raise funds to help ed­u­cate Burmese Chin refugee chil­dren liv­ing in Malaysia.

Be­fore a school assem­bly au­di­ence, the 11-year-old said goodbye to his long locks and within a week, his sacrifice had raised more than $1200 for the cause.

Jour­ney vis­ited the Chin refugees in Malaysia in July, see­ing their strug­gles first­hand, and said: “I am do­ing this be­cause I want the dis­placed chil­dren, like the Burmese Chin refugee chil­dren, who have so lit­tle com­pared to us, to have the chance to ex­pe­ri­ence a proper ed­u­ca­tion.”

The tax-de­ductible do­na­tions have been col­lected by Met­taMor­pho­sis: an in­cor­po­rated non-profit char­i­ta­ble or­gan­i­sa­tion that raises aware­ness and funds to help dis­placed chil­dren with no ac­cess to ed­u­ca­tion.

Es­tab­lished by Jour­ney’s mother Mar­i­lyn Metta in 2013, the char­ity will launch a doc­u­men­tary on the story of how the Chin com­mu­nity, mostly women and chil­dren, was forced to flee their west Burma home­land due to re­li­gious per­se­cu­tion.

Put to­gether by Dr Metta, a Curtin Univer­sity School of Me­dia, Cul­ture and Cre­ative Arts lec­turer, and film­maker Chris Gos­field, the doc­u­men­tary is called How I Be­came a Refugee.

Dr Metta said Millen pri­mary fea­tured in a small sec­tion of the doc­u­men­tary, which she hoped to make avail­able to schools to help stu­dents learn of refugees and the strug­gles they faced, even with things we take for granted, like ed­u­ca­tion.

“We are so proud of Jour­ney,” said Millen PS prin­ci­pal Stephanne Dann. “His ef­forts have taken a lot of courage and I con­grat­u­late him on his com­mit­ment to sup­port­ing stu­dents who aren’t as lucky as we are at Millen pri­mary.”

Last year the school re­ceived an award from for­mer WA Gov­er­nor Gen­eral Mal­colm McCusker for its pen-pal ex­change pro­gram with the Chin refugees in Kuala Lumpur.

Jour­ney hap­pily had his hair lopped off to raise funds for refugee chil­dren.

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