I am sharing another story from someone who is dealing with cancer. This one not only made the medical profession take note, but it changed the opinion of the writer.
I used to think the talk about racism against aborigines was over rated and that it was all in peoples minds. I have lived in this country for ten years and have had my life disrupted by hate. But when I see the country and watch the news I think that aborigines have bought it all on themselves, they don’t work they don’t do anything, yet me I am an Indian man and I have to feel the hate all the time, people make fun of my faith, my accent and my people.
This country has a great medical system, anyone can get the help he needs you just go to the hospital. I did that when I had pains, I stayed in hospital for a couple of days while they ran tests. I had to put up with the jokes of me driving a taxi, I don’t know why they would think I would find that funny, because I am an accountant. But I laughed and smiled. See nothing there to make me think aborigines have it bad.
I was in a room with another bed, into that bed came an elderly gentleman, he looked black, but then so do I. Then man who pushed this gentlemans bed in my room made a remark about his being the curry room. I thought I would be able to talk to the gentleman about this kind of talk and how it is not funny. That maybe that is the Australian way, they are always joking. But the gentleman didn’t answer me in the way that I was expecting. He called me brother and said that while we are black brothers, he was aborigine. I admit I was annoyed that they put me in a room with one of them.
He talked to me, even if I didn’t want to hear it. He had visitors which I didn’t have and his visitors included me in everything, shared the biscuits, chocolates, they gave me one of the bunches of flowers to put on my side of the room. His grand daughter made me a get well card. The little boys and girls would talk to me about the kangaroos and koalas around their house. They told me storys about the animals.
I started to realise that my fear of them as a people was from what I saw on television and not my own experiences. I liked having this extra family around me, they welcomed me into their lives, it was fun. I was released from hospital with addresses and names. I went around to visit this gentleman, who insisted on calling me nephew. Nephew? I am not related but he was ready to include me in his family.
When the gentleman went into hospital, and he went in often as he was slowly dying from cancer. I would go in and spend time with him. He was wonderful to me and the least I could do was repay his kindness and love with my own friendship.
One day I went into him and visited, his daughter and wife were upset and arguing with the nurses on the ward. I felt a pit in my stomach, I thought my friend had passed away. But luckily he hadn’t. He had been bed washed by a female nurse. Now I was confused at first, then aunty told me that as a man he couldn’t have certain parts of his body touched by a female. I didn’t think this was unusual, I thought of my family and out customs very similar, it is not the place of a woman to do this. I spoke to the nurse on behalf of the family. I was saddened to find out that the staff seemed to think that the family were being silly, there words. A nurse washing a patient was not unusual. I said politely that in the culture of the people that this was unacceptable and that it should not have been done.
I spoke to an aborigine worker at the hospital and told him what had happened. He was upset and said that this information was on Uncles file that no woman should do that. He said that the hospital flies the flag out the front, but does nothing to really help the people. He said this kind of racism happens all the time. I was more saddened by this news. I spoke to staff in the hospital and asked what would happen if a follower of muhumed came in with beliefs, I found out that they would call in the diversity people and follow the guidelines for that.
So why did my wonderful Uncle have to suffer the indignities of people who overlook his beliefs, who think that he is not worthy of respect for his beliefs.
My Uncle was very saddened and I believe that this incident hastened his demise.
So I ask if you have Aborigine people in your ward, please listen to them and accept their belief system is just as valid as your own.