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The Silent Struggles

It is difficult to know where to begin and virtually impossible to fit everything in, the common theme that resonated on our Building an Inclusive Community Program Day was the silent struggles that each of our presenters face. It can be so easy to put on your game face and show up, but to reveal what is hidden beneath the surface takes true strength.

Alma Besserdin’s self – awareness and emotional intelligence was very apparent, every example she gave highlighted the importance of understanding your own behaviour and how other might perceive you.
Alma has learnt something from every uncomfortable interaction. If we do not put ourselves forward and make ourselves accountable, why should we expect others to?

The bravery and vulnerability shown by our afternoon speakers saw a few watery eyes around the room. Ishmael Musiliza’s raw and open account of what is was like to flee Congo with his older brother and finally land safely in Australia was captivating, he did not ask for pity. It was humbling to see just how grateful Ishmael is to be here in the Western Districts and how appreciative he is of the things that most take for granted. His positivity and enthusiasm for life is infectious.

Jason Smith was equally as vulnerable and his story took a direction no one saw coming. Breaking the ice by talking about his own leadership journey and winning Young Farmer of the Year led into the challenges of coming out as gay in the agricultural community. He is a vibrant and energetic young farmer and despite being very busy with his business Jason takes time to help others battle the stigma associated with being LGBTI and working in agriculture. Ongoing seasonal challenges and unpredictable markets are challenging in themselves; the agricultural community should lead by example and support each other irrelevant of race, gender or sexual orientation.

The day was full of emotion and certainly opened up my eyes to the importance of remaining inquisitive and welcoming; everybody is fighting a battle we know nothing about, we are all the same in different ways.

Kelly Barnes, 2019 Program Partcipant

Thank you to our Speakers Alma Besserdin; Ishmael Musiliza; Jason Smith and Carly Jordan

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