Why school’s ‘shoulder to cry on’ needs help
FOR almost 20 years Long Bradley has been the shoulder to cry on for students at Helensvale State High School. Now his community are working to pay him back.
The school chaplain, a Vietnamese refugee who escaped the fall of Saigon, has dedicated his life to helping others in their darkest hours.
Known for his efforts during the shock and unrelated deaths of two Helensvale students in 2015, Mr Bradley's gentle nature and open door policy has helped the community heal.
Now parents from the school are trying to raise money to help Mr Bradley fly home to Vietnam to see his mother for the first time in seven years.
Collette Dunn, a Helensvale mother who helped organised the fundraiser, said Mr Bradley provided chaplaincy not only to students, but to families.
Mr Bradley was the first to help the Dunn family after her son's father was murdered on Boxing Day in 2016.
"As a mum, there is no parenting manual that tells a parent how to handle such a devastating situation to a 13-year-old-boy. I called Long," Ms Dunn said.
"He came to our house and spent one-on-one time with my son to provide him spiritual support and continued to do so throughout our journey for justice.
"Long even offered to attend the trial as support for my son but thankfully it was not needed.
"During the Christmas festivities when families are with each other, Long was emotionally supporting mine."
"Even now his support continues to my family as I am sure it does to any family that needs his words of reassurance and guidance.
"Long is such a humble person. He would be happy with a thanks but I think he deserves more."
Mr Bradley, who admitted he was a little "embarrassed" by the generosity of the community, said he was grateful for the chance to see his mother again.
Due to a number of unfortunate circumstances he was unable to make it home for his father's funeral.
The talented musician first came to Australia as a 12-year-old in 1974 for a surgery, and was due to return to Vietnam days later.
However, during that period Communist forces took Saigon and he was fostered by the Bradley family who were caring for him during his treatment.
"I think the input and sacrifice from my own natural family and foster family has had a huge influence on my way of thinking," Mr Bradley said.
"When I first came to Australia the Bradleys really only thought they would have me for a weekend," he laughed.
"It has been a really long weekend.
"I learnt the importance of helping people in need and try to be that listening ear.
"You can't always fix a situation but you can always try to provide a bit of love and understanding.
"I think empathy is about being there."
Donations for Long Bradley's trip home can be made here.