‘Abandoned’ – by Kendrea Rhodes
a snippet from a story about a boy lost in institutional care in the 1920s
We left him to rest, or so we thought.
In the hospital lobby I realized my son was missing, so we retraced our steps back to my grandfather’s room. The picture was memorable: an 89 year old man chatting to his 5 year old great-grandson.
Noticing me at the door, Charlie quickly whispered in his great-grandson’s ear, ‘You can’t choose your family.’
That message is the reason for this short story and the many more that follow; and the reason that my five year old asked, ‘Why can’t you choose your family?’
Charlie’s mother abandoned her seven children at Young and Jackson Hotel in Melbourne in 1926. All seven children became wards of the State of Victoria and were sent to separate orphanages, institutions and foster homes; living in an unaccountable and unrecorded system of care.
During the early twentieth century, approximately half a million children experienced care in institutions or ‘out of home’. Known as ‘Forgotten Australians’, they lived in an unsupervised system sometimes neglected and exploited for the benefit of their carers. Many children weren’t orphans, but their carers told them that their parents were dead.
Want more?…read the following blog posts:
further research on these interesting websites:
Alliance for Forgotten Australians (AFA) is a national alliance of Forgotten Australians and supporters working in partnership to advocate for, and promote, national policies and services to meet the needs and interests of Forgotten Australians.
Find and Connect provides history about Australian orphanages, children’s homes and other institutions.
Kendrea Rhodes is a visual artist and writer living in South Australia. Her articles, photography and artwork have appeared in local, state, national and international publications; and her original art has been exhibited since 1999.
She is driven by a unique family history story based in Victoria and is currently exploring the historical fiction genre in short story format through a Bachelor of Creative Arts Honours, at Flinders University, South Australia.
The stories on this website use words & images, fiction & fact, pixels & paint. Please join us on this digital encounter to discover the art of story telling and story listening: read Kendrea’s latest posts or visit Kendrea’s Gallery.
Stories are how we remember
Stories are flexible. They are told, expressed, seen, heard, drawn, painted, imagined, experienced, embellished, retold, remembered, misremembered and consumed.
Our everyday lives are a multitude of anecdotes, most of which rely on a shared memory, story or conditioning. The cooperative living in our society is an agreement to these community stories and as a result, there’s more trust and acceptance in our world than we realize.
We trust the bus driver to drive us and we trust the chef not to poison us. We trust the fire fighter, policeman and ambulance to answer our call, and we trust that tomorrow will come in the same way that today did.
We retell, celebrate and attempt to learn from (or use) history, while following the rules of the system we live in. We trust our own truth. But we must continue to share stories, even if they’re different—especially when they’re different—because survival depends on memory.
Listen to your neighbour, your family, your annoying old auntie, and that seriously boring person at work. And don’t forget the taxi driver, the hairdresser, the butcher, the beggar, the child, the system, and the planet. Being active and present when listening may lead to something astounding: you might hear someone else’s voice.
Kendrea Rhodes is available for commissions and articles, please visit the contact page or connect via social media below ▼
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