Yesterday my daughter and I spent an incredible Spring afternoon at Eidfest, a festival celebrating the end of the holy month of Ramadan and showcasing the diversity of the Muslim cultures in Brisbane.
There were many people there from the many different cultures as reflected in the clothes, the food and the music at the festival.
We wandered through the brightly coloured clothing and book stalls, inhaling the inviting aromas of the many different traditional foods being cooked ... trying to decide what to eat.
In the end, we could not resist the Indian naan breads, the little Somalian meat pastries, Spanish Churros smothered in cinamon and ginger syrup, Turkish baklava, Malaysian satays, and the absolutely amazing Langos - Hungarian fried bread drowned in cinnamon sugar!
We also attended the Asylum Seeker and Refugee forum with the objective of gaining insight from the point of view of the refugees into the issue that has been dominating Australian politics for the past couple of years.
It was an eye-opening and humbling experience, especially as I am myself an immigrant, having left an unstable country in the grip of the untenable politics of apartheid many years ago.
The difference is, my father who was an industrial chemist and a respected businessman, was sought after for his qualifications in many countries. My father made the choice to leave the country of his birth and to take his family to Australia, with a job already secured.
The refugees and asylum seekers that we met yesterday had no such choice. Some were lucky and had managed to obtain visas through the right channels to resettle in Australia, but many had no option but to flee to save the lives of their children by putting their trust and all of their savings into the hands of the people smugglers who arranged a boat to give them the only chance they had of reaching a country where they would be safe.
These people, now part of our community, have gone through hell to be here. They have endured the terrible conditions escaping from their birth land, the sea journey, and then the capture and enforced detention in Australia where the situation was so dire that any hope of freedom had all but faded.
Yet, they are grateful to Australia for giving them this opportunity of bringing up their children in a land that is tolerant of diversity and free from persecution and are now working as a community to offer help to other refugees and asylum seekers in need.
The Eid festival yesterday, as well as celebrating the end of Ramadan with good food, gifts, entertainment and fun for families, also did much to raise money and awareness for the community work of the Muslim cultures in Brisbane amongst the refugees in war-torn countries such as Pakistan, Palestine, Somalia, Afghanistan and Sudan.