We were in the air and on the road for over 20 hours by the time our crew drove into Katherine in the early hours of Monday dawn. Despite our best planning, our original field trip had been delayed from the beginning of April to May because Manyallaluk remained closed due to floods and heavy rain. Even on the day we travelled out, the new Principal warned us to be careful as there were parts of the road that were extremely muddy and we could possibly get bogged. Luckily for us, Debra Dank safely navigated all pot holes.
The aim of the Manyallaluk Field trip was to help implement a second level or layer for Book Buzz (originally launched in the community at the end of 2009). Debra Dank together with Ameina and Maddy wrote the Kriol edition of Reading with Children to explain why reading is a good idea and to introduce many aspects of reading that we very much take for granted. After extensive work, nearly two years in writing/community consultation, the book was ready. In addition to the Community launch with elders, we had invited our ambassador Andy Griffiths to run a writing workshop with the school who we have visited for the past 3-4 years. In addition, the occasion provided a good opportunity to visit Wugularr, another remote school in the same area.
Founder Suzy Wilson who participated in Andy's writing workshop said that she was amazed at the increase in literacy skills of some of the students she worked with.
"Children whom two years ago were having trouble with letter recognition were competently writing simple sentences for their own stories. It was exciting to see such improvement."
Andy conducted two workshops in Manyallaluk and we cooked a BBQ for the kids and members of the community. A small ceremony was held and books were given out to community elders and a set of books went home with the kids for their mums and dads.
You can listen to Andy Griffiths interview on Radio National here.