Courage to Care NSW is a not-for-profit organisation, run and managed by volunteers and a small number of professional staff. Members of Courage to Care members elect the Executive annually.
Courage to Care NSW has around 100 volunteers, many of whom travel with the program as on-site coordinators, exhibition guides, presenters, ‘living historians’ and workshop leaders. Others work behind the scenes in roles such as administration, treasury, fundraising, logistics, education, volunteer training, quality control, WH&S, IT, graphic design and video production.
Without these dedicated people, who willingly give so much of their time and talents, and our supporters, Courage to Care would not be the highly successful social acceptance education program that it is today.
Our Volunteers cover a range of roles including: Coordinators, Presenters, Workshop Facilitators, Transportation, School Outreach, Fundraising, Event Planning, Public Relations and Behind the Scenes.
Click to view Courage to Care volunteer profiles.
Agnes Geyer: I was born in Hungary, the child of holocaust survivors. My father survived forced labour camps and my mother was in concentration camp and forced labour as was my mother-in-law. They lost most of their families during the period 1944 to 1945. I was acutely aware of why I grew up with no grandparents, uncles and aunts.
We came to Australia as refugees in 1957 after the Hungarian uprising of 1956, a family of 4 with no supports or contacts. While we personally did not experience discrimination here in Australia many Europeans did. I am sadly aware of ongoing discrimination against Jews and gypsies back in Hungary. Throughout the world people are still being discriminated against on the basis of their religious beliefs, colour of their skin, country of origin, political beliefs, their sex or their sexual preference.
As the generation that experienced the discrimination and atrocities of the Nazi era rapidly diminish in number I see it as my responsibility to teach the lessons of the past to try to prevent such events in the future.
Courage to Care attracted me as it has such a positive message for the future while teaching the very sorry state of the past. Ordinary people having the courage to stand up and do what is right can have a major impact on an individual. As a group they can turn the tide!
Annie Friedlander: My name is Annie Friedlander. My mother is an Auschwitz survivor originally from Romania. My father, a Czech Jew, spent the war in a labour camp. They met after the war and lived in France for 5 years as refugees before they were able to get their permits to come to Australia with me in 1952. I was only two years old [at the time].
As an adult, I was constantly aware of the dark cloud of the Holocaust and the fact that, as a result, I did not have grandparents or much extended family. I developed a love of literature and so became a high school English teacher working in a range of schools for around 35 years.
In the 90s I was given the opportunity to participate in the Spielberg Shoah Project whose aim was to video interview as many Holocaust survivors world-wide as possible. Since survivors were rapidly ageing, the completion of the project became urgent as did the need for eye witness accounts to be documented. In the process of completing 13 interviews, I was overwhelmed by the courage and resilience of these people. I think that by listening to their stories and trying to understand this dark chapter of our history, we can gain insights into the worst aspects of human weakness, but we can also learn that we are all capable of great generosity, empathy, courage and love.
Astrid Wurfl: I was born in the USA, grew up in South Africa and moved to Australia in 1989. I’m a researcher at the Queensland University of Technology and work in the area of helping teenagers cope with stress and build resilience. I am married and have three children.
For personal reasons I have always been interested in the Holocaust and Courage to Care seemed like an excellent program to get involved in. Hearing survivor stories is a real privilege and an excellent way to honour their resilience as well as remind us all of the difference that a single individual can make to a person’s life. I’m so pleased to be able to be involved in this important program.
Andrew Havas: Andrew Havas was born in Hungary, immigrated to Australia as a result of the 1956 Hungarian revolution. He arrived in Melbourne in May 1957 as an assisted refugee. Andrew established and is the founding Chairperson of Courage to Care NSW, an educational project which is a major Social Justice, Anti-Racism, anti-bullying program. Andrew is involved in and
working with many communal boards and organizations in various capacities.
He is a past President of B’nai B’rith NSW and is a past Vice President of the Anti-Defamation Commission, previous member of the JCA Board of Governors, Inaugural President and co-founder of the Syd Einfeld Unit of B’nai B’rith, Founding Chairman of Fair Go Australia, Founder of the SOJOC 2000 Olympics, Past Board Member of the Community Relations Commission and is a Justice of the Peace.
His career was as an executive in various senior managerial capacities with significant experience within the IT & Telecommunication sector in IBM and Telstra spanning 38 years. His various leadership roles have covered key areas of strategic analysis and implementation of large scale change. Andrew was a manager in large corporations in various capacities including Marketing Manager and Information Technologist.
In 2009 he received a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM), for services to the community through the promotion of cultural diversity and understanding, in recognition for work as founding Chairman of Courage to Care NSW. His motto: People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.
Barbara Lachish: My interest in Courage to Care springs partly from my own family history. I was born in England where my Czechoslovakian born mother and my Polish born father met after the war. Knowing that with the exception of seven people, all other members of their very extended families had perished in the war, they migrated to Australia a few months later. They always valued their newly found freedom and life without discrimination and instilled in me a strong belief in social justice and the Australian ideal of “fair go” for all.
I value the Courage to Care program for presenting to young individuals the nature of bullying and racism and so recognise how their own actions can impact so positively on negative activity. For me it is a great honour also to hear Survivors telling their stories and in so doing, making their history so relevant for today’s youth.
Caroline Fleming: I was born in Adelaide during World War 2 where my father was stationed while in the Royal Australian Air Force. My family consisted of my sister and very socially aware parents who taught us the values of caring for more disadvantaged people and to be conscious of discrimination and prejudice. Our school had several refugee children who came to Australia from war torn Europe and we gradually learnt of their suffering and discrimination. Subsequently I become compassionate of others and their struggles and as a young person became aware of the assimilation of people into our wonderful country Australia where we had freedom of speech and refugees and immigrants had an opportunity to start life afresh.
Our family came to Australia in the 19th century from Ireland, England, Portugal, France, Italy, Wales etc. So we are a real example of how accepting Australia has been to the 190 various nationalities or so of people who have immigrated to Australia. I always say to the children who come to the Courage to Care exhibition that we are all Australians – it is just that some people arrived here earlier than others.
On a personal note, I am the mother of four grown up children, and am married to a wonderful man who is a survivor of a concentration camp in Europe and lost 27 members of his family during World War 2. I understand the importance of living in a harmonious community and hope that my contribution to Courage to Care enables people – specially children to have an easier path in life. We all share this wonderful country we call home and wish to live in peace and harmony with each other. That is Australia.
Chris Hill: I was born in Hungary in 1946, just after the end of WW2. My parents and older sister, Elizabeth (born in Poland before the war), had managed to survive the war years under false papers in Poland and then Hungary. Our whole family (over 100 people) had been killed in the war, because of discrimination on the basis of religion and race.
Luckily, my parents were able to arrange to migrate to Australia, only thanks to a wonderful Polish friend who promised and gave my father a job here. I always remember his generosity to my family, and Australia’s willingness to accept us into this wonderful country.
I believe in two main principles of Courage to Care: 1) Every act of caring or kindness is important. 2) If I don’t do it, then who will?
David Eisenberg: I was born in Waverley, Sydney in 1946 and am a Second Generation Ozzie. My grandparents were from Europe – on my mother’s side from Spain and my father’s from Poland, so I guess I am a mixed bag!
I am married to Barbara (3rd generation Ozzie), have a son and daughter and seven gorgeous grandchildren aged from 4 to 16 living in Sydney and Newcastle. I am semi-retired as is Barbara, but during my career have achieved a university degree and experienced a chequered business life.
Although I don’t have personal experience of what the Jewish people experienced in the Nazi era I have strong feelings that the Story must be told to young people so such atrocities can never happen again to innocent people.
I believe Courage to Care has a very important role to play in our Australian community and with young people in particular as they are our future leaders.
In my seventh year with Courage to Care I continue to derive great satisfaction sharing our important message with young people from all walks of life.
Eric Nathanson: I live in Brisbane with my wife, and have 5 children and 3 grandchildren mostly in Victoria. I was born in South Africa, and immigrated to Israel when I was only 8, so as I grew up, was educated and served in the IDF (and was in the Yom Kippur war), I regard myself as Israeli, born in South Africa. I am currently retired after all my working years in Information Technology (Computing), and spend a lot of my time volunteering in the community, namely the Qld SES and The Mens Shed.
I got involved with Courage To Care through the local Jewish community, because the 2 main points of the organisation – The Holocaust Survivors and Rescuers, and Bullying in schools and the workplace, are very close to my heart. I feel it a great privilege to be able to represent those that lost their lives in the Holocaust, their families and the survivors, some of whom are in my family too, and the brave rescuers that risked their lives to help save the victims.
Eleanor Tvina: I was born in South Africa, lived in Israel and came to Brisbane in 1983. I am married and have three children.
My heritage is from Eastern Europe and South Africa. My husband’s heritage is from Iraq and Israel. My three children are all born in Australia. This makes us a very multicultural family.
I am a teacher by profession and have worked in an administrative role within our own companies in the Automotive Industry for over 30 years.
I was introduced to Courage to Care through the Jewish Community in Brisbane, and am honoured to be a part of
this very worthwhile program.The message Courage to Care conveys is that as individuals we can stand up against racism, discrimination and bullying. Being involved in this exhibition is a way in which I can contribute.
Elise Zonneveld: I am a third generation New Zealander born in 1938 in Wellington. I studied to become a Kindergarten teacher at the Wellington College of “The Free Kindergarten
Union of New Zealand”.
In 1959 I arrived in Sydney and have spent many years teaching and later being a Director of a number of Community based Child Care Centres. I especially enjoyed working in multicultural centres.
I became involved as a guide with Courage to Care in 2001 after Courage to Care was shown as part of the Anne Frank Exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum. I have Dutch ancestors and in 1957 had the opportunity to visit Anne Frank’s House in Amsterdam.
Courage to Care’s message of communal tolerance, living in harmony, standing up against racism and persecution is something I strongly believe in.
I am proud to be part of the Courage to Care team.
Gill Fine: I was born in I was born in England and grew up in South Africa . My grandparents fled discrimination in Lithuania where, had they remained, they would undoubtedly have perished, as did all their family members who stayed behind. I moved to Australia and have been fortunate to live and work in Brisbane for over twenty years.
My introduction to Courage to Care was through the Anne Frank exhibition which was held at the Queensland Art Gallery several years ago. I was given the opportunity to be a facilitator there and found the experience inspiring. I have always believed that ordinary people can make a difference in the lives of others. This exhibition offers a rare and vibrant experience. This programme opens the eyes of school students to historical events and their effects on real people. This empowers students to make contemporary and very personal choices within their own lives, based on what they have seen.
Just as small evils can lead to great horrors, so small kindnesses can lead to great good. Courage to Care enables us all to understand this better.
Gloria Wecksler: I was born in a small town in Malaya called Seremban, but for most of my younger life I lived in Singapore. In 1967, I arrived in Sydney to study at the NSW Conservatorium of Music. Whilst fulfilling my dream I missed the loved and familiar, and
my family and friends.
However, Australia has become my home and I know how lucky I am to live in this beautiful country. With two grown up boys, my husband Stan and I still live in an idyllic suburb in
Sydney’s south, close to the bush and river and surrounded by a close knit community.
Though my family did not experience the horrors of the Holocaust, I am still aware of the trauma caused by such
conflict. Both my parents were interned in Changi Prison during the Japanese occupation in Singapore in WWII.
From 1972 to 2002 I worked for the NSW Education Department, teaching Music in high schools and initiating
Student Welfare programs.
I now guide student groups at the Sydney Jewish Museum and am delighted to join the Courage to Care team in its
mission of working with our young leaders to cherish the gifts of freedom and tolerance we experience in Australia.
Click to view Courage to Care volunteer profiles.
Jaelle Thompson: I have been a volunteer with Courage to Care for two or three years now. I joined after retiring and have immensely enjoyed the experience.
I believe the message of the program is an excellent one and I love working with such a wonderful group of people who are committed to the philosophy of “being an upstander”. Meeting the men and women who are our “survivors” has been the highlight. It has been such a privilege.
In my paid working life I was an EALD teacher and worked with many people from refugee backgrounds and have a great passion for inter -faith and inter cultural communication.
James Hill: I am fortunate to have been born in Sydney, my parents having had the foresight and ability as newlyweds to leave Germany in 1937 and head for a new life in Australia.
When the Australian Government decided to intern all ‘enemy aliens’ my father was by then working for a small private engineering company in Sydney manufacturing tank, gun, and other components as part of the ‘war effort’. The owner of the company told the Government Officials: ‘If you take Herb from us, this company will no longer be available for war production’. So my parents were able to continue to raise their family in safety and contribute to their adopted country.
Courage to Care is a good way to get the important message across that even one act of kindness, or consideration, by an individual can make a difference to another person’s life.
Jane Luri: I grew up in Christchurch, New Zealand, where my family belonged to a small Jewish Community of 75 households, approx. 250 people. I am a third generation New Zealander, since my parents and grandparents were born there. After World War 2, new migrants came mostly from the UK, except for the few that came from Europe, most of whom settled in the North Island. This meant that the South Island wasn’t exposed to foreigners and other cultures.
During my primary school years in the 1950s my fellow schoolmates couldn’t understand what being Jewish was. They only knew and understood the New Testament and thought everyone went to Church and believed in Christmas. One of my biggest difficulties in Primary school was trying to cope and explain why I didn’t attend Scripture Classes. There was no support and understanding from the schools or teachers during my Primary years. Fortunately I came from a close loving family which helped me through.
I am hoping that by being a Guide with Courage to Care I can help enlighten today’s generation and they will see that a person who follows the Jewish faith or of any other different background is no different to them or anyone else.
Jeanie Kitchener: I was born in Australia of Viennese parents who fled after Kristalnacht. Through their communal work, they instilled in me a great sense of social justice.
I have always been committed to human rights issues. When I heard of Courage to Care, I knew that I could put a lot of my energies into this very worthwhile program. I have been involved in many facets since the commencement in NSW in 1998. I have endeavoured to involve the elders of indigenous communities to present their experiences to the school students. This links into our aims of social tolerance and combating racism and prejudice.
I am very proud to be actively associated with this wonderful program and it has given me much personal satisfaction.
Jenni Mitchelson: I was born in Melbourne to Jewish German refugee parents who were both born and brought up in Germany. Both sides of my family can trace their ancestry in Germany back for 450 years.
They were proud of their lives and family in Germany. When Hitler began to make laws preventing Jews from working and studying in Germany, both my parents had to abandon their jobs, families, relatives and friends, to start a new life in a new country, where Jewish people could live without fear. They came separately to Australia in 1938 and early 1939. I have a postcard from my grandmother to my Mum sent from Auschwitz. She died in Auschwitz three days before liberation, aged 42. Most of my family were killed by the Nazis.
I became a teacher of English to Adult Migrants. I have always been involved in projects, volunteering to share and help wherever there was a need. My daughter is studying at University of NSW and she wants to work in a country where she can help to improve the quality of people’s lives.
Participating in Courage to Care, I enjoy working with a team of idealists with whom I can share my passion to spread kindness and awareness and nourish tolerance and appreciation of differences.
Jennifer Fine: I was born in Australia with family roots tracking back to Lithuania via South Africa. I live in Brisbane and am currently studying at university. Human rights and social justice have always been an important part of my life.
I was drawn to Courage to Care because I believe strongly in the part we as individuals can play to combat bullying and racism. I aim to provide further understanding surrounding the existence of prejudice and discrimination in daily interactions and how they can develop into something extreme and dangerous. Human beings, like sheep, tend to follow rather then lead. I believe Courage to Care helps to equip individuals with the knowledge and understanding to make their own choices and the consequences of standing by and doing nothing.
I am honored to have the opportunity to share the stories of the exceptional individuals who have risen above their circumstances to pursue what is right rather than what easily. I also hope to pay tribute to the people they have helped and the lives that they have touched through their selfless acts.
John Hall: I was born in London in 1940 but my family moved to Dorset during the war, and later settled in Sussex. After spending two weeks on a farm as a six year old I was determined to be a farmer when I grew up.
In 1966 I was able to realize this dream as I moved to Australia with a government sponsored migrant organisation. After ten years’ farming in the Riverina district of NSW I felt a calling to the ministry of the Methodist Church, later to become the Uniting Church. I served in Gloucester for eight years and at Liverpool for the following thirty years.
In April 2001 many Christians from various countries gathered in Jerusalem for a solemn service of repentance for Christian anti-semitism throughout the Church’s long history. I was one of the clergy leading the service. After a similar service back in Sydney, I met members of Courage to Care and was inspired to join the organisation as a volunteer guide.
Judy Lee: I was impressed by my good friend’s enthusiasm for her educational role in Courage to Care. I thought I would really like to be involved in such a programme.
I have always admired Edmund Burke’s adage and after viewing the Courage to Care exhibition in 2010 in Sydney, I was really “hooked” on his message: ‘When good men do nothing, evil happens’.
It is a privilege to help schoolchildren understand the evil inherent in stereotyping and “bullying”. I feel that Courage to Care is a two way process. Not only do we, the volunteers, endeavour to open the minds of the school students but we may, in turn, unlock our own feelings towards children of different ethnic backgrounds and through Courage to Care meet on the road to tolerance and understanding.
Courage to Care is also an opportunity for the volunteers to learn from each other’s experiences and enjoy the camaraderie of this special group.
Kayla Silverman: I was born in South Africa and have lived in Australia for most of my life. I am proud to be Australian and feel privileged to live in a beautiful country where freedom of speech is allowed and where most people have a keen sense of social justice.
Having grown up in the days of apartheid in South Africa, I am acutely aware of racism and inhumanity. My parents were born in Poland but were fortunate enough to have emigrated prior to the Nazi era. Many extended members of my family perished at the hands of the Nazis. My roots have instilled in me a desire to do my small bit to fight against discrimination and intolerance. I have spent four decades teaching in secondary and tertiary institutions and feel that the most important lesson to be learnt is that of compassion and tolerance. In the twilight of my career, I would like, in some small way, to help combat intolerance and bullying.
I feel privileged to be part of Courage to Care and cherish the opportunity given to me to facilitate in passing on the message that every single person can make a difference!
Kayla Szumer: In 2005, when the Muslim boat people were being demonized by the government and the media, my husband and I proposed that Courage to Care come to the Sunshine Coast with the hope of promoting tolerance towards refugees seeking protection in Australia. This idea became a reality in 2007 and over 4000 school children attended the Education Program.
Since then I have attended many exhibitions as a coordinator, a job I love because I meet so many committed people and feel that together we can, in some small way, empower others to fight racial intolerance.
My interest in social justice and human rights probably stems from the fact that migration is part of my family background. Both my parents came with their parents from Belarus in the 1920s, one fled from the Bolshevik Revolution the other escaped from Stalin’s regime and my husband was a child survivor of the Holocaust. I am very proud that my father-in-law, Osias Schumer’s R Badge is now on display in this Exhibition.
Lee McNamee: I live in Brisbane with my husband and two children. I was born in South Africa and my heritage is from Eastern Europe, England and South Africa. I am a practice manager of two allied health clinics and am a guide at the Queensland Art Gallery.
I heard about Courage to Care through the Jewish Community in Brisbane, and am so pleased to participate in a programme that shares values of acceptance and tolerance in our community, and to play an active role in combatting racism and bullying.
It is a privilege to share the stories of those that have endured so much, and those that have selflessly done so much.
Libi Maxwell: Born in Adelaide in 1944, I am a third generation Australian. Mine was mostly a happy childhood in an average suburban neighbourhood. Early in 1966 I sailed to England, and spent my first year there working for Baroness Sue Ryder, at her Suffolk home for survivors from Polish concentration camps. The ‘bods’ as they were called, were men and women of extraordinary courage and resourcefulness. Later I worked in London and Paris, returning to Australia after 3 years. In 1973 I spent 3 years working in Kenya, before returning to Australia and getting married, later adopting our two children, who now are grown with families of their own. For 19 of those years I worked as practice manager in my husband’s medical
Now widowed, in 2004 I spent 5 enjoyable years teaching English at a secondary middle boarding school in rural China. Since returning to Australia I have learnt of the work of Courage to Care. I totally believe in its message of empowering people to make a difference in the lives of others, and I endorse the sentiments of Caroline Jones, ‘The price of liberty is indeed eternal vigilance, by all the people, on behalf of all the people.’
Linda Briner: I was born in New Zealand, my heritage is Eastern European, and I moved to Brisbane in 1970 after I married.
I heard about the Courage to Care programme through the Brisbane Jewish Community, and felt this was a cause I would like to support. I have always identified and empathised with any persecution, whether it be political, religious or social.
I was impressed that ordinary people can become extraordinary heroes, that one person can choose to make a difference. This is such an important lesson for our children. The courageous people showcased in the exhibition do just that. Their inspirational stories must be taught, must be honoured and must be remembered.
It is a privilege to be part of that.
Liza Cohn: In the dark hours of a spring morning in 1938 my parents scooped up my sister (aged 4) and me (3 months old) and with the help of many friends, fled from Cracow, Poland into
the unknown. To aid the deception the curtains were blowing in the open windows and the door was left open as usual.My grandfather had virtually forbidden my father to leave, confidently reassuring my parents that nothing would happen to the family since he was a respected member of the business community, employing a large number of workers in the Koh-i-Noor Pencil factory.
My grandparents and others of the family perished.
Australia offered us shelter, stability, and wonderful educational opportunities. For some 50 or so years, apart from my family, the art and the difficulties of learning have been my focus, together with the practice of counselling children and families in a school setting.
Since leaving the paid world of bells, timetables and structured hours I have had time to savour and meander and
reflect on what is important. The Courage to Care focus on recognition, respect and support for each member of our
communities has drawn me passionately to the programme
Lucille Segal: I was born in South Africa and have lived in Sydney since 1988. Although my immediate family did not experience the Holocaust, I have always been deeply affected when
meeting survivors, finding their personal histories inspiring lessons for life. This interest has led me to become a volunteer guide at the Sydney Jewish Museum.
I am also involved in a Custodian Program, in which a younger person is matched with a survivor and through a very personal relationship takes on the survivor’s story. This program was piloted at the 2011 Gloucester Courage to Care exhibition.
As a parent, I feel especially passionate about my work as a guide in the Courage to Care program, which aims to
empower students to make good decisions in tricky situations like bullying and discrimination that require courage and strength of character. The program demonstrates to students how each one of us can make a difference and how in this way our schools and work places will become more caring and respectful environments.
Maxine Cheilyk: I live in Brisbane QLD with my husband Gideon. Our son, his wife and our grandson as well as our daughter and her partner live in Brisbane too. We are also blessed with 3 Parents who live at the Gold Coast. I was born in Johannesburg. We left South Africa in 1976 and went to live in London. We arrived in Australia in 1978 and feel very fortunate to call this home. My paid career has evolved from Teaching to Retail to Marketing. I was a National Fashion Buyer for Myer Stores based in Melbourne and then I had my own fashion label for 11 years, supplying all the major stores as well as many smaller retailers. A return to my roots of teaching saw me become a facilitator within the Retail Industry and I ended that career as the National Marketing Manager.
I heard about Courage to Care through the Jewish community and am pleased to participate as a volunteer as part of a great team. I feel privileged to hear the Survivor’s stories and learn more about those who chose to be upstanders and take such positive actions. I especially value assisting the school students and teachers to consider the choices they make to counteract discrimination and domination.
Margaret Hall: Since 1967, my husband John and I have served as Christian pastors, always having concern for the persecuted, the poor and the needy.
Only within recent years have I become aware of the extent of antisemitism with the history of the church. John and I represented the Protestant churches at the international conference “Changing the Future by Confronting the Past”, in Jerusalem in 2001. In 2004, we attended the International School of Holocaust Studies for Educators and Clergy from Abroad, at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.
Having been a coordinator and guide with Courage to Care since 2003, I now organise the training for all guides. I am convinced that much good can be accomplished if each one of us is willing to speak up and to act on behalf of those in need, and that the Courage to Care Exhibition inspires us to do just that.
Margaret Weiss: My parents emigrated to Australia from a displaced persons’ camp in Italy in 1949, where they had met and married. One of my father’s surviving cousins helped sponsor them to this country because Jews were not permitted otherwise. Both parents were Holocaust survivors; Mum was born in Poland in 1922 and taken to forced labour/death camps (Grossrosen and Parschnitz) in the Sudetenland (Bohemia). Mum was liberated at the end of the war by the Russians.Dad was born in Slovakia in 1914. His father Moritz Weiss, moved to Austria in 1920, where he established himself as an accountant in Vienna, and bought a brickyard business in Amstetten.Due to the rise of Nazism and the annexation (Anschluss) of Austria by Germany in 1938, Dad and his parents and sister were deported from Austria to Bratislava, as they were still Czechoslovakian citizens. Dad survived the Holocaust by escaping on the illegal steamship “Pentscho”, which was wrecked in the Aegean sea. The 500 shipwrecked Slovakian Jews then spent two years on Rhodes. Dad was taken to Ferramonte, (an Italian concentration camp) which he described as a holiday camp. The Italians are noted for their kindness to the refugees. When the Allies won Italy, Dad was liberated and spent the remainder of the war as a driver for the Allied High Commission. Despite Dad’s efforts to return to Slovakia and rescue his family, they were murdered. More than 120 relatives on both sides my grandparents, aunts, uncles, great-aunts and uncles, and first cousins of my parents – were murdered by the Nazi death machine. My only surviving aunt on my mother’s side (born in 1925) lived through Bergen Belsen and settled in Israel after the war.
There are very few Jewish names now in the Slovak phone book. “Weiss” was once a very common Jewish name; Holocaust memorials in Prague and Theresienstadt list this name more than any other. I have visited Auschwitz, Dachau and the sparsely populated synagogues in Berlin, Budapest, Gyor, Hungary, (where my father’s mother came from) Prague, Cracow and Warsaw.
I was born in Sydney in the early 1950s. My parents bought a business and worked very hard to give my younger brother and me every opportunity. They often talked about their lives in pre-war Europe and their Holocaust experiences. My work as a government lawyer in Aboriginal land rights exposed me to the Australian Aboriginal population. I am well aware of discrimination and what it can lead to. My experiences as a first generation Australian of non-English speaking background and my parents’ lives have led me to join Courage to Care and what it represents.
Miriam Sonnenschein: I was born in East London, South Africa in 1934 and was fortunate to have had a happy and uncomplicated childhood. After school I studied at Cape Town
university, to become a primary school teacher.
I later met my husband Egon, a Holocaust survivor, who was born in Slovenja. In 1983 we emigrated as a family to Australia to get away from the oppressive unjust Apartheid political regime. We have lived very happily here with our four children and twelve beautiful grandchildren.
Always being involved in community work I have recently have joined Courage to Care, where Egon shares his experiences as a survivor to help children understand about the way people with courage, often at great peril to themselves, help those in need.
I am privileged to be part of this very worthy Courage to Care program.
Ngaire Douglas: Ngaire is a retired Senior Professor of Tourism & Hospitality Management, with a long very interesting and varied career. She is the author and co-author of numerous books and articles on history, tourism and the cruise industry in the Asia Pacific area. She and her husband Norman have lived and worked in a variety of countries in this region.
In retirement she is loving new adventures, including learning the violin, which she finds “the hardest thing I have ever taken on!” Ngaire is also actively engaged in training academics in Cambodia, Vietnam and Indonesia in many and varied educational endeavours. She has been a trainer for Cruise Lines International Association Australasia, teaching travel agents about the cruise business. Since 2007 she has been a program leader for Road Scholar, a not-for-profit organisation in Boston, USA, taking older Americans on educational adventures through Australia and New
Ngaire and Norman have recently re-located from 5 acres of rainforest in northern NSW to an apartment in Bulimba, a suburb of Brisbane. It is a tree change in reverse and they are loving all the activities the city has to offer after living in the bush!
Ngaire’s involvement as a presenter in Courage to Care is a most satisfying way for her to continue to embrace her love of sharing information. Ngaire (pronounced Nyree) is an NZ Maori name and only goes to show what a sense of humour and bequest her mother had – “I have never been short of a good conversation starter!”
Olia Zvenyatsky: Born in the Soviet Union, where my family faced constant persecution due to our Jewish ethnicity, I was very fortunate to migrate to America at the age of ten as a refugee. This gift of freedom inspired me to learn, travel, and help others. I graduated from Columbia University in New York, having studied languages and international education, taught English in Japan, and traveled extensively around the world.
Elie Wiesel said that “Peace is our gift to each other.” My passion for peace and equality inspired me to join the United Nations, where I worked for ten years. Disappointed with the UN’s handling of the Middle East and other conflicts, I left the organisation, moved to Australia and pursued studies in natural medicine. I love living in Brisbane, where my husband, daughter, and step-children are my greatest teachers. My gratitude and pride in being Australian are boundless, and I am honoured to be a member and advocate for the Jewish community.
In the 1950s, my grandparents were sent to a concentration camp under Stalin and my father was exiled to Siberia at a very young age. These injustices, along with my own discrimination ordeals made me keenly aware of the importance of compassion, kindness, and courage. Volunteering as a facilitator for Courage to Care is one of the most meaningful and rewarding things I have ever done. I love spending time with, and learning from, the inspirational Holocaust Survivors. Immortalizing their stories is crucial in honouring their courage and in helping the world to avoid repeating the mistakes of history.
Peter Tassius: Born near Frankfurt in Germany, I came to Australia in 1986 via London. I live with my partner of near 30 years in Brisbane. From International Hotel Management, owner and operator of a restaurant, Medical Practice Manager and now Landscaper/ Garden designer I have had the great fortune of meeting many interesting people from all over the world and varied walks of life.
My introduction to Courage to Care came via Astrid Wurfl, another Brisbane Volunteer and committee member. Apart from the rich experiences I gain from the interaction with young students and visiting schools, as well as being part of a energetic C2C team I am very passionate about the fact that the devastating history of my forebearers is often told and repeated. Through education and speaking up we can only but try to stem the tide of anti-Semitism, racism and bulling per se.
Live, Let live and DO NO HARM!
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Renee Pinshaw: I decided to volunteer for Courage to Care after attending the exhibition in Liverpool in 2003 with my son. He had been to Poland earlier in the year on the March of the Living program.
My maternal grandparents lost most of their family members in the Holocaust. I grew up unaware of their family, as my grandparents never mentioned them. I lived surrounded by cousins, uncles and aunts on my father’s side. It is only with maturity I came to understand how different my mother’s childhood was, with her only family being her parents, a brother and a sister.
I never felt personally affected by the events of the Holocaust until I saw a photograph of my son with a memorial plaque he placed in a cemetery in Poland. For me, this was the first acknowledgment of our loss. I had always wondered how I, as one individual, could make a difference. Working with this organization I have found the satisfaction in knowing that through this wonderful education programme; tolerance and acceptance of others will be the way to memorialize the lost generations.
Robert Erdos: I was born in Hungary after the Second World War. My father was in a forced labour camp during the war while my mother and sister were in hiding during the German occupation of the country. My uncle was tortured and
killed by the Nazis.
My parents, sister and I escaped from communist tyranny during the Hungarian revolution of 1956. We settled in Melbourne in 1957.
As an adult I travelled the world, living in England and Israel for a number of years, before returning to Australia to live in Sydney where my wife and I raised our two children.
I am an engineer, but I also worked for a short period helping teachers at Moriah College High School.
In addition to some horrific experiences of my family, I had to deal with bullying in school – in Hungary because I was a Jew and in Australia because I was the only non-English speaking migrant in my area.
As a result of my experiences, I can easily identify with victimisation and believe that lessons learned from the Courage to Care program can only help make this a better world.
Robert Israel: I was born in Maroubra, Sydney in 1942 and am a Third Generation Australian. My grandparents were from Russia, on my mother’s side and from Poland on my father’s.
The family was fortunate not to be in Europe during World War II. I have been married to Vicki for 12 years and between us we have 7 children and 10 grandchildren all living in Sydney, so we are kept busy.
My professional life has been in architecture and building for 50 years. I specialise in CAD (computer aided design) and run the monthly meetings of the Sydney PC User Group.
I feel very strongly that young people should be aware of discrimination, bullying and racism and given the tools to combat them. Although I have not had personal experience of the Holocaust, I feel that the example of the Holocaust is an effective way to educate students. Courage to Care does this very well.
Roger Beran: I was born in Australia in 1949 in a household with parents and grandparents all speaking a foreign language. I grew up in a home from another world. I understood what it felt like ‘to be different’.
Courage to Care attaches great significance to the role of ‘the bystander’. So do I. The bystander could change my world if he/she decided to get involved. Having someone stand alongside me was very different to someone standing opposite me. I learnt first hand what difference a bystander can make to how we see the world, and how we feel.
I see Courage to Care as an opportunity to share with school students how standing with someone, can be so different to simply turning your back on them.
I enjoy the challenge of encouraging students, to speak openly with the people in their lives. I hope a conversation begins, and goes on long after they leave our exhibition.
Rosita Armer: My family lived in Bielske, Poland. When the deportations commenced my father was sent to Mauthausen, and my mother, sister and grandmother were hidden in the Polish village of Oswiecim (Auschwitz). When my mother found her daughter and mother had been rounded up, she surrendered herself for deportation. My mother survived Auschwitz, and was liberated when Count Bernadotte sent white Red Cross vans into Auschwitz to release Scandinavian prisoners of war, as she was smuggled into a van and sent to Sweden.
After liberation, my father learned that my mother had survived. As he was ill, it took a year for him to join her in Sweden where I was born. My father’s brother, having survived the war by working in Schindler’s factory, immigrated to New Zealand and later Australia. He organised sponsorship for our family, who arrived in Australia by boat as displaced persons in the 1950s and made a new life here for which we are very grateful.
Sister Dominica: I grew up in the Netherlands and after university joined an international, interdenominational Sisterhood based in Germany (see www.kanaan.org. In 2010 I came to Australia to live and work in our branch in Camden, NSW.
Coming from Europe and having lived in Germany for over twenty years I knew much about the Holocaust. However, what speaks to me and challenges me about Courage to Care is its focus on the relationship between rescuers and survivors. Even during one of the darkest times in human history ordinary individuals made a decisive difference in other people’s lives. That is a powerful message. It challenges me to live with my eyes open for what is happening in the world around me and to discern the opportunities to stand up or step in to help where needed.
In Courage to Care I especially value the input and commitment of the Holocaust survivors in telling their personal stories. I feel privileged to be part of it all, helping to get across the message that each one of us can make a difference.
Sister Patricia: The organisation to which I belong has been involved with Courage to Care since its first days in 1999.
Founded in the aftermath of World War II, The Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary has grown to be an international and interdenominational community with sisters from over 20 countries (see www.kanaan.org.
It is important for us to support Courage to Care as it seeks to teach and inform people about the basic kindness we can offer one another; to treat others the way you would like to be treated.
In recognition that the most horrific acts can grow from the smallest of negative seeds, I am happy to support and be a part of a team that seeks to heighten awareness that acts of kindness can and does change lives. It is a joy to work with a diverse group of people with a richness of life experience.
Shirley Brayton: My parents left Lithuania to escape the danger of pogroms and settled in South Africa, where I was born. Growing up there, I was horrified at the way the African people were treated under the apartheid rule.
As a child, I would be sent down to the corner shop by my mother. There would invariably be a long line of black people waiting to be served. I would be called to the front because I was a white person. I would insist that those who were before me were served first, much to the consternation of the shopkeeper and admiration of the African people, especially because I was a young girl and had the guts to stand up for what was fair.
After I married, my husband and I left South Africa for Israel due to our anti-Apartheid convictions.
It is important to me to be able to help in any way to stamp out discrimination and bullying, which is the aim of Courage to Care. I am therefore very proud to be a member of this group.
Shoshana Cochrane: I was born in Israel in 1946 and immigrated to Melbourne, Australia in 1963 when I was 16 years old.
My mother survived Auschwitz, and after Auschwitz was liberated was able to go to Israel. My mother rarely spoke about her experiences in Auschwitz and a general code of silence prevailed in our Melbourne household. My strong abhorrence of racism was formulated by what my mother and many others had suffered. I have one son, who lives in Israel with his wife and two daughters.
After a career as a drug, alcohol and gambling counsellor, I currently work with elderly dementia residents at the Montefiore Home.
I feel privileged in my role as workshop leader to encourage school students to practice the philosophy of Courage to Care to build tolerance, understanding that each student in his or her own way can make a difference.
Susi Freeman: I was born in Vienna and was lucky to have been able to escape with my parents to Australia in 1939, just before the outbreak of the Second World War. Several members of our close family were not so fortunate and perished in the Holocaust.
I have spent all my life in Australia and love it. I have been successful in my career (I am a dermatologist). I have a husband, Ron Freeman also a volunteer, one son Jeremy and two lovely grandchildren, Michael and Caroline. I have had a good life in Australia, but I will never forget that I could have easily been one of the six million Jews who perished.
I volunteer with Courage to Care, as I want to enlighten children that one person can make a difference, through telling the stories of those who were saved because others had the Courage to Care. I also want to help teach that one must stand up against discrimination and not be a bystander.
Sue Rosen: I am second generation Australian. My grandparents were all from Europe. My mother’s family were victims of discrimination and intimidation in Warsaw, Poland and so decided to leave for Australia before World War II. They were among the lucky ones.
I am teacher trained but for the last 33 years have worked in a family business. This has allowed me to become involved with organisations such as Courage to Care. Because of my teaching I have witnessed first hand bullying by students and its far reaching effects on those being bullied. My hope is that one day we will be able to overcome this behaviour in schools. I also volunteer for an Indigenous organisation that provides educational opportunities for students who otherwise would not have such experiences.
Tony McNamee: I was born and raised in Brisbane and am married with 2 adult children. I am a specialist musculoskeletal physiotherapist and have been in private practice with two Physiotherapy Clinics in Brisbane.
I believe that we can all help to build a society that does not tolerate racism and bullying in any way.
I was drawn to Courage to Care as it focuses on the stories of people that have made a difference. To make people aware that they have the power as the bystander to speak out and make a difference in someone’s life is the strength of this programme.
Trevor Zabow: I grew up in South Africa under Apartheid and all of my family were appalled by the racial discrimination we witnessed on a daily basis.
I have been living in Sydney since 1981 and have had a career firstly as a litigation solicitor, including family law, and then as an operational manager, most recently in a conciliation and arbitration tribunal. Communication, client service, and conflict resolution were central to my work, and my various roles involved training and group facilitation which I enjoyed a great deal.
I am married to Debbie who is the child of Holocaust survivors. We have two daughters and I also have a son. Debbie’s late father, Jack Greene, and his late brother, Bob Grunschlag, survived through the actions of a Righteous upstander. Both Jack and Bob contributed significantly to Courage to Care in its earlier years and I feel a sense of privilege to be able to participate as well.
Vera Dunn: I was born in Hungary and my family fled across the border on foot to escape the Communists. We spent time in refugee camps before being accepted into Australia as refugees when I was 5 years old. My parents were both survivors of the Holocaust and lost all their families. They were so grateful to come to Australia and being simply allowed to live normal lives, free from discrimination.
I grew up with parents who had heavy accents, different food and culture and who had to struggle to establish their family in a new country. I certainly was always aware of being different and feeling it hard to fit in. My parents’ stories of their lives so badly affected by discrimination and bullying of the worst possible kinds makes me treasure the basically open and tolerant society that we have in Sydney.
I feel that it is my duty and privilege to do what I can to help students and people of all ages to understand where bullying and the refusal to accept each other can lead. My parents told me stories of people who had the courage in such difficult circumstances to help someone, even in small ways and how that made such a difference. I want to inspire our young people to realise that by not being a bystander they can help someone who is suffering.
Vicki Israel: I was born in Australia on Victory Day – 9th May 1945. My parents left Europe in 1938, coming to Australia as Jewish refugees from Germany and Poland. Luck was on their
side as they got their visa to Australia on 8th November 1938, the day before Kristallnacht. However, my grandparents, some aunts, uncles and cousins were victims of the Holocaust.
My surviving family was scattered all over the world, and my sister and I grew up with a very small extended family in Australia.
I am passionate about social justice and since 2000 have volunteered for “Courage to Care”, as well as supporting
and working within other Jewish social justice organisations. For many years I was on the Courage to
Care Management Committee as Volunteer Liaison, holding the position of Vice-Chair for two years. Currently I
edit the Courage to Care newsletter and Coordinate the team in the Exhibition program. I believe that Courage to
Care is a very special organisation and I passionately believe in all it stands for.