Donations pour in to ease plight on Manus Island

Moved by the stories of hardship in immigration detention centres, Australians are sending letters, parcels and goods to detainees to remind them they are not forgotten.

At Melbourne's Fitzroy Learning Network on Wednesday, children painstakingly inscribed the inside pages of new books, destined for youngsters detained on Manus Island.

Asylum seekers on Manus Island now have a school, says the Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young, but the school is in dire need of books.

The books were donated by an anonymous Australian publisher. Senator Hanson-Young urged people to check their shelves for spare books.

''There is great empathy and compassion out there in the Australian community,'' she said.

Anthony Bieniak is the organiser of Letters for Ranjini - a support group for a Tamil woman who was granted refugee protection in Australia with her husband but later received an adverse ASIO security assessment. Ranjini has since given birth to her baby, and is in indefinite detention in a secure housing complex in Villawood detention centre.

Mr Bieniak's group has sent hundreds of messages of support to the young mother.

''We've had a lot of packages … at one point we were drowning in baby clothes.''

Mr Bieniak also was moved by the story of Aria, an Iranian musician detained on Manus Island who says he fled Iran after scores of heavy metal musicians and fans were arrested. Soon, Aria will be unwrapping a package of heavy metal CDs and T-shirts donated by a Melbourne music store and three record labels.

To help, visit lettersforranjini.com, acmf.com.au or take books to a Greens office.

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The story Donations pour in to ease plight on Manus Island first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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