Michael Smith and 13 year old orphaned refugee Mohammed.

Another incredible season two episode of Go Back To Where You Came From highlights the greater gap between what some privileged and comfortable people of the west take for granted and the stark reality of life as a refugee.

There’s riots all over Kabul (some may say it’s because of the arrival of the three westerners!) because some of the American troops have burned copies of the Koran, and understandably Reith is concerned for his safety. I think anyone would be. Deveny calls him out as being “One of the ministers of a government happy enough to send people back here”. Serious safety concerns are being raised, and so the group are given their phones back (though the international roaming charges will kill them when they get their next bill, so maybe they are safer in Kabul?).

The brutal reality of life in Kabul is faced when Reith, Anderson & Deveny meet Akbari family, who are victims of a suicide bomber – they lost a brother and 6 other family members. Their son was 9. 76 people died from that attack and we’re shown photos of their daughter Turana, now 12, standing screaming in the middle of a cluster of bodies. No assured clean water supply, sanitation is appalling, and with over half a million people displaced within Afghanistan itself living in similar conditions to the Akbari’s you can see the realisation of life starting to sink into the participants.

“I just felt so inadequate” — Angry Anderson

In Mogadishu, Asher, Smith & Bailey set off to see if Abdi’s house still stands – 20 years later. It’s a big ask, but they manage to find both his house still standing AND some of his family, including his Aunty and his Uncle Hassan (Abdi’s mother Alima’s brother). They meet with them and are able to show them photos of Abdi all grown up. It’s an emotional moment that isn’t lost on the participants – displaced/families split because of the prevalent violence. The area is in the grip of the worst famine in 60 years and most of the people are beyond reach because the local warlords keep foreign aid and workers out. How can this be allowed to continue – it is simply because there’s no oil in Somalia that no one is acting?

Kabul is getting nasty. The first group were to meet Hamid’s cousin at his house, but instead his cousin has come to them. Increased violence has made life very hard. The Hazarah are daily targets. The next day in Kabul, Reith, Anderson and Deveny visit a refugee camp. It’s been in place since the Russians invaded – over 20 years ago. They meet a 20 yr old mother with three kids (she was 13 when she had her first child) whose husband is a drug addict. Reith sees it as very depressing, and Anderson is visibly moved by the conditions the children face.

Before leaving Somallia, Asher, Smith and Bailey visit a Somali health care centre for children. 41% of the city is malnourished. Michael is proud of what Australia does for a small part of the global refugee epidemic. Imogen’s empathy is obvious – who wouldn’t be affected by such a sight.

“I want to cry but it’s not my place to do so in front of these mothers whose children are dying.” — Imogen Bailey

Smith & Bailey at odds over what Australia is doing – Imogen thinks Australia should be more welcoming to these people as refugees (“throw the doors open”), but Michael reaffirms his views Australia already does enough as a country, though he has plans to personally support street artists to get them to perform internationally as a chance to get them out of Mogadishu.

It continues to be another confronting, overwhelming and educational look at the stark realities of why people flee their home with nothing seeking refuge in places like Australia.

Group 2 come to the Somali/Ethiopian border to see and experience the but a part of the journey and the conditions offered in the refugee camp that greets those that make it that far – more than four days walk for many. Less than 5% of people in the camp have genuine papers that could assist a formal asylum application. No wonder people face desperation when arriving as asylum seekers. They meet a family of newly arrived refugees. There is little hope of a better life for them, and yet Michael still persists that refugees should stay here or else Australia would be “caught under the weight of numbers”.

The six converge on Dubai – a stark contrast of luxury compared to what they’ve experienced in the last few days. Group 1 were going to try and see Hamid’s wife & daughter in Kabul, it is just too dangerous to visit them, and too dangerous for the woman and child to leave where they are. Oh the irony.

Corlett appears to again question and challenge the group. The question only add to the existing conflict between Deveny & Reith.

“There’s still blood on your hands even though people may not have died in the coming to Australia because you gave them no choice while sitting in camps wanting to leave.” — Catherine Deveny to Peter Reith
“This is a hard issue and I don’t have the answers, and neither do you.” — Reith in response

Group 2 head to a refugee camp in Ethiopia. Asher & Bailey search the camp for Alima’s cousin Hawa, incredibly locating her amidst the chaos. They discuss life in the camp, and see the effects of the environment and crowded camp life as they go to help collect water – there wasn’t none. 35,000 refugees and no water – the United Nations is struggling to keep up. Smith meanwhile is walking through the camp and is a magnet for some of the male orphans. The group with him are the same age as Abdi was when he fled – 13.

He’s affected by one boy especially – Mohammed. He sees the young boy on his own, with no farther figure, yet still so openly optimistic and happy – all despite his lot. Smith is visibly moved. Is this the redemption of Michael Smith?

Smith is convinced we’re doing enough as a country – Asher & Bailey challenge him and want to know how he feels that. Michael clarifies and says that personally we can all do more, and that for him is the key takeawy. He feels he wants to do something personally… perhaps even adopting Mohammed.

Actual reality television doesn’t get more confronting or powerful.

Go Back To Where You Came From – series completes Thu 8:30pm, SBS one.