ElizabethIf anyone has been through the heart breaking experience of social exclusion, bullying or ostracism because of the way they look or their disability, they would know equality is truly bliss. Bliss is home. I love my new found ‘home’ in this choir. Once a week extends out to all aspects of my life… it isn’t escapism. It’s a healing experience that betters a person.

I came from Beijing in 1990 and grew up in sunny Brisbane. Mum came to Australia two years earlier and worked hard to make a home for me. I lived through the Tiananmen square massacre and got rice with food stamps. When I arrived in Australia I was blown away! This is an amazing country… I’m very lucky to be here.

I have faced many challenges, including child sexual abuse, but I am a survivor. I endured bullying and racism when I first lived in Brisbane, but that taught me compassion.

At 17 I was diagnosed with lupus, which can attack the body at any time. At 18 I was hospitalised with cerebral lupus. I was also diagnosed with bipolar 1 disorder.

After 10 years I was put on medication that worked, however the side effects are weight gain and kidney complications, which can be bad for lupus. My self-esteem went down the drain. I thought about suicide a few times but I had far too much to leave behind.

One of the things I took refuge in was singing and music. I found With One Voice Melbourne online and went along in the first week of 2013.

The energy and connectedness of the people in the choir amazed me and I knew there and then I wanted to be a part of it.

I smile a lot in choir. Ever since the first time I attended, I could not stop smiling because I’m so happy being there. It’s so much fun and very healing. I feel rejuvenated and nurtured after choir!

Each time it ends I feel good for two days and start craving choir again! It just keeps getting better and better!

The choir benefits me because it reminds me of my life’s purpose… to be happy, to sing, and to feel inclusion and community instead of isolation and alienation.

Suddenly backgrounds, occupation, race, religion and disability disappears and instead there are only voices, song, smiles and happiness.

We laugh and cry and lean on each other. This is what life is about… this is what happiness is about… this is true equality.

The Wish List in the choir that gets read out each week is also amazing. So many people have had a wish come true!

How often do people even dare to wish these days? If a wish comes true then I can only imagine how that person’s heart flutters with love and joy even if it’s something small. I got free piano lessons!

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