The ABC recently aired a story about “paper orphans” in Nepal. These are children who are orphans only on paper, their status “invented” by orphanages to attract money, or sponsors, from wealthy countries like Australia. According to the ABC, Australians are “still funding and volunteering at orphanages, unwittingly perpetuating a multi-billion-dollar global industry that exploits children for profit.”
Albury city, that regional border-hub on Wiradjuri land and site of the first migrant centre in Australia in 1947, has featured more prominently than usual in the metropolitan news of late. When greater Melbourne went into hard lockdown due to Covid-19 and the border between Victoria and NSW was closed, Albury became the unlikely scene of backed-up traffic chaos, permit wrangling, road-closure protests and people getting fed-up and angry.
We’re approaching the town now. A spire. Some rooftops. There’s a large establishment looking like an outpost on a hill to the north. To my travel weary eyes it looks like a fort built long ago by the Portuguese on the west coast of Africa. Perhaps something in Benin —