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Education allows James to flee his monsters

by Marcus Priaulx 22 July 2013

J

ames Hopkins (pictured) was 17, in jail and with a girlfriend about to give birth when his life took a huge swing for the better. James’s uncle gave him the Bible and told him it was a good read. James, now 34, found it a great read. He poured over its tales of wars and strife and happy endings within two weeks and began to pray to God he’d be freed from his cell to watch his baby girl being born. He was given the immediate release he applied for the next day and has since sworn to live a good life. James has since been a Brisbane youth worker, founded a Young Indigenous Father’s Group, worked for Queensland Sport and Recreation and with the Parks and Wildlife department, before returning to Cherbourg in January last year. There he met chef, Sheree Strauss, who was two days into starting a Yurri Muntha Café, which had its official opening during NAIDOC week on July 9. James is now one of its six employees who provides wiz-bang coffees and meals in a great setting where you can still hear noises of the bush. He, like the others, is being trained in commercial cookery, retail service and food safety to gain the qualifications they need to work in any hospitality business. James has always gained qualifications at places of work and is in high demand. “Everybody wants to employ

him,” Ms Strauss said. James said if he did go back to youth work he would now be able to teach people how to cook quick and healthy meals. “Everywhere I’ve gone I’ve always got my qualifications so I could do a job of my choice to the best of my ability,” James said. “It’s great for me because I always do a job I like. It’s not

about the money.” When he looks back to the day he was in jail James says he was in a “spiritual crisis”. “It’s a different world in prison,” James said. “It’s like living with monsters and smiles. “I’m glad I got out, got educated and got employed. “It’s made my life a lot happier.” Page 1

James flee his monsters  

James Hopkins was 17, in jail and with a girlfriend about to give birth when his life took a huge swing for the better.

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