Our third field trip for the year took us 4,000km northwest of Sydney into the Kimberley country. During the trip we met with teachers from St Marys, Broome Residential College and Fitzroy Crossing District Highschool, visited Magabala Books, did a radio interview with ABC Kimberley, and went out to Yakanarra Remote Community School.
It took a long flight to Broome, a four-hour drive to Fitzroy Crossing and then a short flight to get to Yakanarra, a remote Indigenous community with a population of about 150 people.
Yakanarra School is a beautiful little school. It has a dynamic Principal, Helen Unwin, and the most experienced and knowledgeable local teaching staff. The school has been part of the Book Buzz program since 2011, and has provided children aged five and under packs of quality board books to take home.
Helen shared stories of how the books have impacted on the community. She spoke of the level of engagement of parents reading with children, the enjoyment children have with reading, and the excitement children have when receiving their new books. The community has brought books into their traditional culture, not only accepting and reading books at home but also identifying the need to look after them.
At Yakanarra we met Mary Vanbee and Jessie Moora (pictured top right), two highly respected traditional owners of the region who can read and write in English and their local language, Walmajarri. They have worked at Yakanarra School for so long that they can’t remember exactly when they started. We learned that these elders are not only mothers, grandmothers, and teachers, they are also authors. Over their time in their roles, Mary and Jessie used their love of telling stories to create a small library of local stories and songs written in both English and Walmajarri. They shared these stories with us and we had the opportunity to listen to Jessie sing some songs in language with her students. A project is now underway to preserve these irreplaceable stories for generations to come.
This was another successful amazing program visit, which allowed us to see how our Foundation is bringing literacy to remote and isolated communities across the country.