Our wonderful volunteer of 5 years, Chris Hunt, has written about his life, his empathy for the disadvantaged, and how volunteering fulfills him after his retirement. We’re so grateful for the opportunity to tell his story.
I first came into contact with the work of Pink Cross in 2013 when CEO Genevieve Gilbert was speaking at a convention in Victoria. She asked me earlier this year to write a bit about myself, and I felt it was time to share….
It was during this year’s ASASE convention (Australian Summit Against Sexual Exploitation) that I purchased the book ‘Big Porn Inc’ by Melinda Tankard Reist. It was not always pleasant to read, but it is the kind of information that people really need to know; particularly the abuse that is taking place in front of our eyes without us realising.
Growing up in the 40s and 50s, I recall my childhood from a wealth of happy memories; especially my lovingly encouraging home. As the eldest of five, I was busy and well-cared for. My parents were active and strong contributors to the community affairs. I lived amongst forested hills and gullies, orchards, gardens, birds and animals – both domesticated and wild. My teenage years were marked with long months of scrub clearing, wood gathering, and hard work with heavy hand-tools. Transport included miles of walking and cycling, ancient tractors, worn-out cars, and the long-bus trip to high school. I wrote letters to my friends and family, even after the telephone wiring arrived in 1958. The family would gather together and listen to the Sunday evening radio to relax. Life was cosy and simple — until 1960.
In that year, the news about what Jesus endured on my behalf reached me. I simply said ‘yes’ to him and began absorbing the whole story with help from peers, preachers, and prophets. I had “grown up” slowly, without awareness of systemic injustice. After his war service, my father kept his ‘post-traumatic stress’ hidden, and my experience of personal trauma was minimal. The word itself was unheard of. But I was (and am) sensitive to the pain of others, regardless of the nature of their poverty, anguish, or hidden need. In coming to Christ, the evil in mankind which would inflict such maltreatment began to dawn personally upon me, but, at the same time, grace is given to receive both an unmeritable pardon and power for personal change.
I became a teacher in the 1960s, attending Bendigo Teachers’ College and going on to teach in country primary schools in South and West Gippsland, the Ovens Valley, and Bendigo. During this time, I married Margaret, and we were married for 46 years, 4 months and 11 days. We have 3 children and 4 grandchildren. I have been a widower for seven years now.
I stopped teaching full time in 1992. Since then, I have volunteered for local primary schools, and enjoyed going to a local Men’s Shed. My days are filled with personal studies, reading, and writing. I have reconnected with friends I have had for many years, and this has been a very fulfilling time in my life. I love getting to hear people’s stories and where they come from. I am a bit of a counsellor at heart, so I am always quick to give suggestions. Volunteering is a joy of life for all ages. To help one another is the whole purpose of our lives. Is there anything better to do in my life than helping other people? We must help!
During this year’s ASASE conference I felt my heart going ‘all the way out’ to those who have trodden a hard road. My own “hard road” (and call to volunteer) has come to me in three ways: 1) through a keen disappointment at the inertia and spinelessness of politicians to whom I addressed impassioned letters (on the subject of penalties for exposing minors to X-rated videos) more than 30 years ago; 2) through hearing public testimonies of sexual exploitation survivors ; and 3) through reading such sickening and traumatising materials as Big Porn Inc; whose contributors are truly heroic. They all give help through research and publicity.
Am I to join with such heroes? Of course! HELPING OTHERS is my number one imperative. If I am virtually surrounded by the disadvantaged whose lives have been contorted through abuse, advertising, entertainment, or the pursuit of the next despairing ‘fix’ or fad, then my help can be said to be needed!