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Free to Fly

When I was 10 years old, we found a cockatoo chick who had been blown out of the tree in a wind storm. He was too young to fly and his parents had no way of retrieving him to get him back into the nest. He came home with us.

I became Fella’s surrogate mother, feeding him with a specially prepared mush that was for baby cockatoos. Times were different then and the idea of rehabilitating and releasing back into the wild were thought to be impossible, so, Fella became our pet.

Fella never learnt to fly. In fact, he is scared of flying. On occasions, he would suddenly find his wings and take off. Fear would take over him and he would land on the nearest thing – a tree branch or the neighbours roof. I would then have to climb up and try to cox this frightened bird down.

Most of the time, he can just come out and wander around on the grass without concern that he will take off. He spends some time chewing on whatever he can find, pulling out weeds (and things that aren’t weeds,) then wanders back to his aviary and safety.

Fella doesn’t have to fend for himself, but what does that cost him?

I often think of this as a self-imposed prison. He could easily at any time just take off, go exploring, have the life that a cockatoo should have, however, life is safe as it is.

You could say that my father was well meaning when he brought Fella home all those years ago. He and Fella had a close relationship. He loved this bird and he gave him everything he needed. They had a strong bond. Now that my father has passed and Fella lives with me, we have renewed our bond. (Sulphur-crested cockatoos can live up to 100 years in captivity.)

I think about Fella’s story and this self-imposed prison as I reflect on Social Mission. It is one thing for us to be well-meaning, to go out and help someone, to make a difference in their lives. However, in doing so, we don’t want to lock them up in a cage of reliance. We don’t want them to lock them selves up in the self-imposed prison and be dependent on you.

The aim of Social Mission should always be to set the bird free. Give them what they need to nourish them, to build up their strength, to teach them how to go out in the world and survive. Then open up the door and set them free. In their freedom, they are always free to return for advice and encouragement, however they are not ours to imprison in our need to give.

You are now free to give to someone else and have an even greater impact on the world.

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