As Dina Halkic entered the room of The Bully Zero Charity Ball ,which was held in Melbourne, Australia, over the weekend; a respectful silence swept across the 1000 plus crowd of celebrities, CEO’s, wait-staff and media. Rhonda Burchmore, Master of Ceremonies, embraced Dina as she so eloquently told the story of her son, Allem, who in 2009 saw no way out, after being the victim of “cyber bullying.”
He was 17, forever young, when he leapt from the West Gate Bridge. Dina and Ali Halkic have campaigned tirelessly against “bullies” since their son’s death, all those years ago, which probably just feels like yesterday in their minds. Dina explained, holding back tears, how she goes into Allem’s room everyday and how the room is exactly the same, as the day Allem left it, before disappearing forever.
The Bully Zero Charity Ball was beautifully choreographed, its theme, a touch of orange. To raise funds for the non-for-profit organisation, there were raffles and lucky balloon prizes, with the first prize, a trip to Hawaii. The silent auction: an autographed boxing glove from Muhammad Ali, a signed guitar from “The Boss” Bruce Springsteen, just some of the amazing memorabilia that would go toward helping the victims of “bullying.”
It was a little after midnight when my dancing feet said, “Hey, you are wearing winkle-pickers, time to go home!”
Outside, the seagulls flapped on the jetties, a city circle tram rattled in the distance, spring rain drizzled about, life goes on I thought to myself. People live with pain and sadness, but they find a way to go on.
The Bully Zero Australia Foundation has helped unsung heroes like Dina Halkic, just as Dina has helped BZAF, to carry the flame, to help future victims from feeling lost, alone, to provide a safe-haven, an option, a passage, awareness, albeit, a way out.
If you are the victim or know someone who may be the victim of bullying, please reach out, you’re not alone.
The Riparian Times would like to thank The Bully Zero Australia Foundation for the invitation. A special thank-you must be extended to Claire Wardley & Michelle Murray for an amazing event.
Cover Image by A. Jiang © words by M. Cooke