Margaret & Barry Mizen - Talk for Change
On 2 November, students in years 10 and 11 were given an incredible opportunity to meet Margaret and Barry Mizen. The Mizen family hit the headlines in May 2008 when 16 year old Jimmy was murdered in an aggressive attack in a local bakery. Margaret, his mother, told us that on the night that he died, she went to her room and made two promises: to keep his name alive and to devote the rest of her life to working for peace. To this day, Margaret and Barry Mizen work to promote safe havens in communities and to educate young people, using Jimmy’s death as the starting point for their conversations.
We all had a real sense of who Jimmy was once Margaret and Barry had spoken to us – his charm and joy shone out of their anecdotes and pictures. We heard the narrative of events that led to his death and Margaret spoke of the horror of running around the corner to the bakery to discover that Jimmy had been so savagely attacked. Immediately however, it was the faith of Margaret and Barry that shone through. They spoke of forgiveness, holding close to God and the power of prayer in responding to such enormous sadness. The knowledge that Jimmy is in heaven, safe from harm, brings solace and allows them to speak of Jimmy with a smile.
Smaller groups of students were given the chance to speak to Margaret and Barry, where once more their faith, compassion and sincere desire to work with young people to promote peace shone through. Our students asked sensitive, but probing questions to find out more about a range of themes, from faith to forgiveness, punishment to peace. They left their meetings reflective, and grateful for the chance to have such important conversations.
While hearing about Jimmy’s death was profoundly shocking and many tears were shed, the uplifting message of faith and hope were central to Margaret and Barry’s testimony. Students found answers to their own struggles and many shared the sadnesses that they have suffered and how the Mizens had given them hope. Handshakes, hugs and promises to remain in touch were a theme of the day. I don’t think that any of those who heard the Mizens speak will ever forget their inspiring message.