Another great leadership camp was held at Tarzali run by our volunteers with Ron directing. Members Mel and Joel and Lara were amongst the leaders and Joel and member wife Liz did some great prep and setup work for the camp as well. Grade 6 & 7 children attended and for the first time this year both grades were going to be transitioning to boarding school (due to changes in state education system).
The theme was ‘standing strong’ and there were lots of opportunities to talk about preparing for boarding school, battling homesickness, standing up to peer pressure. Practical topics like hygiene, boarding school routine, budgeting etc. were also covered. Healthy eating was discussed and modeled with a week of healthy farm fresh food for the kids. And of course lots of fun activities such as swimming at different nature spots, kayaking, garden cooking, fire making, crafts, loom bands, paper marbling and making bamboo bows and arrows and journals.
July ’14 OTK members Ron and Lara went along with the holiday program to do some community work. One day they held a Garden Market day where edible nutritious plants and seeds were sold at cost and gardening and healthy eating resources were given out. All of the materials had come out of the work of the OTK community demonstration garden. A table-load of healthy veges and herbs were harvested from the garden and used for multiple cooking demonstrations (including some help from the kids!) with the results being heartily enjoyed by the holiday program kids and some locals including the mayor and deputy mayor who dropped by for a yarn and to be persuaded that veges can taste OK!
Some work was also done on replanting a handful of trees at the church tree planting that had been damaged by the bulls and reinforcing the plantings with barbwire to keep the bulls out. Repairs were also made to the irrigation. Work was also done on the community demonstration garden, weeding, tidying it up, making some changes to the irrigation. A row of fruit trees were planted along the fence-line. Ron also built a seedling propagating hutch for the garden.
OTK purchased and installed irrigation for the council greenhouse that is adjacent to our garden. This makes it much easier for those using the greenhouse. This includes council and lands office projects such as re-vegetation projects run by rangers using locally propagated bush food and bush medicine plants. Jobfind was also using it for a while and we get to use a little bit of the space in return for our irrigation contribution.
The garden continued to be used for a variety of projects and programs – school visits, healthy cooking lessons, bush workshops, etc.
July 2014 was another great holiday program for the kids with lots of puppets, singing, crafts, discussions and teaching. The team was led by Mel Baulch with a great contingent of our regular members on this one, Branden, Liz, Mel B, Mel R, Jaan, Lara, Ron and Lachie. It was great to reflect on the fact that one of the team had been a member since our first trip ten years earlier! It was also great to have local teenager Wendell step up to being a full team member for the first time making a great contribution. The team also got to encourage the local church and local people trying to make a difference. Separate boys and girls youth group nights were also held as well as the day program.
Ron and Lara came along to run a Garden Market day and some other community work (see Community demonstration garden and community projects update) as well as supporting the team with cooking and cleaning.
Since the last newsletter there has been some great news. The Anglican Church Diocese has agreed to fund many of the repairs we were raising funds to assist with. So far the roof has been repaired and there have been assurances of repairs to the whiterot damage and also the rotting stairs at the front. Further discussions with the Kowanyama church will be undertaken to determine where best to direct the current and future funds but one possibility is adding a disabled ramp to the stairs when they are completed.
The church improvement fund is open and community members and OTK members are still raising funds to carry out some repairs and improvements to the church and it’s grounds.
As well as being a church it is also where our programs are run for the kids, many community events, cultural workshops, funerals, weddings, christenings etc.
The Kowanyama police and community members raised the funds to put airconditioners in recently which are much needed in this very hot place. OTK also contributed in a small way to this fundraising.
Priorities for the church improvements fund are:
Our volunteer bookkeeper since 2008 has moved on. We want to thank him for his valuable contributions in helping us set up accounting systems and teaching us so much about financial systems and accountability. His huge contribution is greatly appreciated. Thanks to Sue Marshall who is now volunteering her time to do some of this work.
OTK recently held a members workshop on effective community development principles.
As well as learning and sharing we worked on how we can better work with the community in a way that helps not hurts – as we move into the future.
OTK was also able to donate a gynaecological chair that had been sent up by a team volunteer Winston Madawala from Rivers Baptist church to the new Apunipima clinic in Kowanyama.
We have been very humbled to be the recipients of a generous fundraising campaign by the AMAQ foundation for a much needed secondhand troop carrier.
With changes to mining company requirements almost all vehicle hire companies were getting out of troopcarriers and there are now no reliable companies that would hire us a suitable vehicle to go to Kowanyama for holiday programs or to transport kids for camps.
This has been an amazing blessing to us and the kids! Thanks so much to the AMAQ foundation and Colleen Harper at AMAQ and the generous donors including an anonymous doctor who contributed half the cost of the vehicle. Work is underway to get some logos on it and it will be ready to go shortly!
Youth group is becoming increasingly popular with a range of kids from grade 5 to high school regularly attending Thursday nights at the local church.
Local young person Breanna Lawrence has really stepped up to take on the role of youth group leader with the help of others such as Beatrice Josiah.
Lara continues to provide background support but Breanna is doing an amazing job running the youth group that regularly sees up to 30 kids attending.
The kids are already asking about the leadership camp in September which they are very excited about.
Again it has been a privilege to be able to support the Kowanyama State school in providing a quality education and safe learning environment to the kids of Kowanyama. We continue to support the after school learning sessions where kids and their families can get extra help with literacy and numeracy. We have also been able to provide a range of donations for the school to use as prizes to encourage school attendance, literacy class attendance and academic achievements and good behaviour. These include sticker books, school backpacks complete with lunchboxes and book packs, indigenous literacy books for the library, healthy treats, literacy tools, sports equipment for after school activities, and power cards for the kids’ families.
We also are very grateful to the Kowanyama school and Principal Ross Mc Cutcheon for his support of our holiday program teams – providing us with accommodation at the school on a regular basis.
The community demonstration garden continues to be a central point for the community for promoting healthy eating and gardening. Locals continue to drop in and ask about various plants to eat and grow, kids have been learning about the garden, local and visiting organisations have been using the garden and it’s produce for various activities including:
A couple of our members did a working bee in the garden at the end of the dry season and put up a greenhouse for propagation.
The garden is thriving in the current dry season – lots of kids have been coming in and learning about gardening and taking veges home to plant and cook with. Pots of edible plants are now available for sale to the community at cost as well as seeds and gardening booklets. Our healthy cooking and Kowanyama gardening DVD’s will be available soon.
Dr Lara was able to take some fresh herbs and veges to the girls group pizza cooking recently and we will be doing a healthy cooking session with them from the garden shortly too.
Some of the high school kids used the veges in their cooking classes at school too.
One of the teachers is looking to bring his class in again and also to use the garden as a contemplative quiet space for kids to record interviews with elders.
Four volunteers stayed on to conduct a working bee at the community church grounds. The community church is used by almost everyone in the community – it is used for church, bible studies, youth group, holiday programs, visiting trainers, community meetings sometimes, clothing sales, funerals (which sadly are far too common) and other events and visiting entertainment. The outside area has also been used for workshops in healthy living, arts and traditional crafts. Therefore improving this area has benefits for the whole community. There is a public toilet out the back which was graffitied, rusting, dirty and damaged. The roof was rusted and leaking and so rafters had started rotting too.
The team replaced the roof and rafters, scraped and painted the walls, replaced toilet seats and holders. They then installed irrigation to water the 13 bush tucker trees we planted that should grow rapidly into lovely shade for community members. Each tree also had to be protected from the roaming bulls with wire enclosures. A bit of work was done in the community demo vege garden also.
On a similar note the local police and church members have been fundraising to provide airconditioning for the church (a must in that climate!) and are nearly there. OTK members assisted with one of the disco fundraisers in the June holiday program and also donated items to sell for this worthy cause.
The Winter 2013 trip into Kowanyama was a great time of serving & being served. The dynamic team of ten led by Mel Radford & Mel Baulch arrived into Kowanyama on Saturday 22nd of June after a beautiful & exhausting nine hour drive. The kids’ holiday program was full of crafts & activities, with decorating hats/shoes/pillowcases/t-shirts as quite a popular craft! Plenty of fun had with games, singing songs, and puppets.Our lessons for the week focussed on the topics of friendship, kindness, forgiveness, courage to care & patience.
The team ran a clothes stall with great bargains on the Wednesday afternoon. Although the stall was not as popular as previous years, the bikes were very popular & sold quickly! Thanks to Kev Rosser for rescuing and refurbishing them all the way from Hughenden. The stall was followed by a community BBQ & evening of fellowship.
A highlight for the week was a girls night on the Thursday evening for 12-25yr olds. It was such a joy to be able to connect more personally with some of the girls & pray for them. Once again a fantastic trip.
We believe in supporting other local Kowanyama groups and initiatives and we have had a long mutually supportive relationship with the Kowanyama Church of Ascension.
The Kowanyama Church, due to many years of use and a changing Kowanyama population and community use, is in need of some repairs and improvements. We would like to continue our support of the Church and also open the opportunity for others to join us in supporting the church.
The Kowanyama church is used as a community hub for a lot of different activities, this includes our programs. Recently, the Kowanyama Church has been blessed with the Kowanyama Police fund raising for some airconditioners. These air conditioners will be greatly appreciated by all community members who use the church during the very hot summers.
During the June / July Kidzone trip some extra volunteers will be checking on the Community Vegetable Garden. With any garden there are always bits of weeding, checking on watering systems and even some more planting to do.
The Jobs list:
A few extra volunteers are heading to Kowanyama, while the June / July Kidzone team is there to do a few working bee jobs at the church. There are a few repairs to be done gardening work and the new shipping container to be positioned and filled.
The following jobs are on the To-Do list for the working bee:
It is wonderful to have a full car of four extra volunteers for the church maintenance working bee. If you have some time and would like to travel to Kowanyama to help with a future Working Bee at the church please reply to this newsletter or contact us via the website Contact page. Any building, repair, gardening, or cleaning skills would be greatly appreciated by the Kowanyama Church of Ascension.
Storage has been an issue lately in Kowanyama. otk has some larger equipment that is kept in Kowanyama as it is impractical to transport it, from Cairns or the Tablelands, each program. We are very grateful for all the places around the community that has allowed otk to store these larger items over the last 8 years. The last storage location however is no longer available and there has been no current offers for a new location.
In the past, the Church has offered some of its very limited storage space. Although, with the Church's very modest storage currently being in high demand, the idea of a shipping container was discovered. This shipping container could provide a longer-term solution to otk storage requirements and could offer the Kowanyama Church with some overflow storage space. With permission from the church to store a shipping container on the property the task of finding a reasonable priced, good condition shipping container started.
A shipping container has been found and has been transported to Kowanyama. One activity for the June / July Church Maintenance Working Bee is to level the ground where the container will rest, set the container in place and transfer the equipment into it.
Time is fast approaching to the Kidzone (Holiday Program) run in the June / July school holidays. The team has been preparing to head out to Kowanyama from the 22nd of June until the 5th of July. The majority of the team will be working with the children & youth of Kowanyama from the 22nd to the 29th of June while a few extra volunteers will stay on until the 5th of July to complete some of the planned working bee activities at the Kowanyama Church & Community Vegetable Gardens.
This trip's theme is "Show IT!" and covers topics like kindness, forgiveness, patience, self-control, peace.
June / July trip planned activities:
Yet another successful leadership camp was held in the September school holidays. The kids had lots of fun on the Atherton Tablelands. However more importantly they built on what many of them had been learning about at youth group in how to be a leader with their peers, families and community. The theme was “Standing Strong” and there was a big focus on how to resist peer pressure and build character and prepare for going away to boarding school. They also learned about healthy eating and living and did some garden cooking too.
It was great to have two local leaders on the camp including a young person who had been coming on our camps and programs for years and was now coming as a leader.
A generous donation from Qld Xray through the AMAQ foundation provided some much needed new equipment for the camp.
Out There Kowanyama Inc.'s latest holiday program, in December 2012, saw a team of 7 travel to Kowanyama for the annual Christmas vacation program. For the first time, the program was run from the local church in the centre of town, which was a great success. Apart from the usual games, sports, singing, arts and crafts, the program consisted of many Christmas activities including making Christmas cards and crackers and it was also a great opportunity to share the Christmas story and its message each day with the kids.
One major highlight from the trip was the Community BBQ and Christmas Carols evening that was organized during the trip. Over 150 people attended and were able to receive a free meal, hear the Christmas message and join in the Christmas Carols by candlelight. It was a fantastic night and a real encouragement to see so many people from the community in attendance.
A big thanks must go to Kowanyama State School for allowing us to use one of their buildings for accommodation and Kowanyama Anglican Church for their constant support and encouragement during the program.
Richard Whewell (director)
The 2012 leadership camp was another great success. The Kowanyama kids once again made the journey from Kowanyama to Tarzali for a fun-filled week of activities, learning and preparation for stepping out into the world at boarding school.
Some of the activities included swimming, snorkeling and sightseeing at Josephine Falls, Etty Bay, Malanda Falls and Lake Eacham & Lake Barrine where they got to see the giant twin Kauri trees. They also got to see the Cathedral Fig tree, Gillies lookout, Malanda forest walk and were treated to the sight of the rare endangered Lumholtz tree kangaroo in the wild. They drew pictures, made campfires, picked vegetables and fruit and learned about growing, eating and cooking healthy foods.
They played board games, handball, volleyball, badminton, nerf gun wars and jumped on the giant trampoline.
We found some great clay ochre at one of the swimming spots so an impromptu corroboree was arranged for the last night around the fire and awards and prizes were presented to the kids.
The theme was "Standing Strong" and some of the topics included Peer Pressure, Culture and Faith, Standing Strong in the world.
All meals and BBQ's were healthy and home cooked. The kids enjoyed the food, the learning, the swimming and the games.
On the last day, it was the birthday of one of the kids so they even got birthday cake for their drive home!
A great highlight was having some Kowanyama Youth starting as junior leaders and trying out as trial junior leaders. They did a great job and we hope they'll stay involved-this is an exciting part of leadership development. Thanks to Wendell Luke & Shekyra Greenwool and also Chris Wilson. Thanks to all our other leaders: Joel Bodman, Joel Elliot, Jackie Mayne, Mel Radford, & Marsay.
Thank you also to our sponsors Zonta Women's Club Pine Rivers who covered the cost of our transport (our biggest cost) as well as the fees for two of the girls. Thanks also to the new couple in Kowanyama who sponsored two kids to come along and thanks to Max Stocks Wholesalers for food donations.
Directors: Liz Marshall & Mel Radford & Melinda Baulch
The second week of the June / July school holidays saw our largest team of volunteers, to date, travel to Kowanyama to run the Kowanyama Kidzone Holiday Program. The theme of the week was 'Standing Strong' and this theme was developed through the week in puppet shows, skits, stories and memory verses from the Bible. It was a great dedicated team who provided a week of great fun and activities for the kids. These included making juggling balls, painting pillowcases, face painting, photobooth, and jewelry making. The kids were also introduced to Futsal as we had a coach and state representative both on the team, and they loved it. Due to unforeseen circumstances and changes of staff not being aware of our program there ended up being a clash with a group of university students doing sports programs that week. Our thanks goes to the Deakin students for allowing our team to work in with theirs - they were great to work with and were doing a great job. Thanks and much appreciation to the Sports centre for being flexible and allowing us to re-work programs to ensure the best outcomes for the kids despite the short notice for them. It has also been wonderful to use the relatively new council facilities at the Multi-purpose centre again and for this we're grateful. We are also very appreciative of the Kowanyama State School and Principal Ross and Deputy Principal Tal and family without whose generous support it would not have gone ahead.
Last but not least-thanks to our wonderful volunteers who contribute their own time and money to serve the community of Kowanyama.
On Tuesday afternoon and evening the team joined forces with the local church to run a clothing, linen and book sale, community BBQ and fellowship evening which ended with a Corroboree organised by local elders.
Once again the community expressed appreciation for the opportunity to buy super cheap quality secondhand clothes and goods for their families, with all proceeds going to Out There Kowanyama Programs for the community. Our sincere thanks to Pine Rivers Zonta Club, Gwennie Simpson & Cairns Baptist Church, Anne Whyatt, Nik & Rod from Coconut Village, Cairns and Winston Madawala.
Thanks to the local elders and the wonderful kids of Kowanyama for a great evening of fantastic dancing and singing which was finished off with a performance from two talented members of our team. Ron & Lara spent most of the week installing proper irrigation and new garden beds and soil in the community demonstration vegetable garden. Branden brought some of the team and some of the kids along a few afternoons to give a helping hand. Next thing we knew we were inundated with kids wanting to garden, shovel, and play cubby-houses with our spare garden bed boxes! Some kids got to sample some of the fresh cucumbers that were already growing. The kids had a wonderful time! Since the holidays lots of kids have been popping in and helping Lara in the afternoons when she finishes work at the clinic and works in the garden and both kids and adults are learning how to grow veges and cook healthy meals.
Apologies for the late arrival of this newsletter. It was sitting in the draft box and I didn't realise it hadn't been sent out. Keep an eye out for another one soon for the recent July trip!
"This trip was a great time reuniting with the Kowanyama kids & other locals. Our time was spent planning the week’s kids program, running a great week of vacation care for the kids, attending church & various other fellowships. We had a snug team of six people who worked together well. The program consisted of crafts, painting, colouring, face painting & games in the youth centre, stories, skits & memorising verses (for which we were able to give out prizes), sports, fusball, Wii and movies. Some of our morning themes were “Be Encouraging”, “Love one-another” & the Christmas Story. We had morning tea of apples, oranges, cordial & more chit-chat! Also, the Carols by Candlelight Corroboree held outside the church was a pleasure to participate in. The church was decorated with plenty of lights & we gave out battery-operated candles for the kids (& adults) to use whilst singing the Christmas story. Many locals joined in & there were plenty of younger children who also got involved. Another highlight was the opportunity to work alongside the Youth Centre’s employed team. They were fantastic in helping us out when we needed more support or direction with the kids & running our programs & we were very grateful for their help. It was an honour for the Out There Kowanyama team to share this time in Kowanyama & especially in the lead up to Christmas."
Directors Mel B & Tegan
January 2011 Newsletter Summary
A great team of volunteers went to Kowanyama on the 15th of January, led by Elizabeth Marshall and Mel Radford. They were the first of our teams to use the newly opened Kowanyama Sport and Recreation facility. It was fantastic to have the use of this facility to run the program from during the week; the big open hall provided a great undercover area to play lots of fast paced games, the children were able to fill the hall with their voices during the singing time and the side rooms were used for craft, board games, ukulele lessons, movies and Wii sport. We are grateful to Elizabeth Hare (recreation manager) for her on-going support and generosity and wish her all the best as she moves on after many years in the community.
Attendance to the program was good even in the intermittent rain. During the week the team shared with the children about the importance of encouraging one another with our words and how forgiveness stops the cycle of payback. The team taught memory verses each day and the children responded well to this.
During the week, the team had local workers Father Wayne, Val and Faye over for lunch and Elizabeth Hare and her sport and rec team for dinner. Team members enjoyed this time getting to know and spending time with local people and encouraging them.
Another great team went up in December – actually the same group who went up last December led by Richard who has been leading the December trip for years. It was a rather sombre week with a funeral for a mother of four who was murdered followed by the sudden death of a 36 year old the next day. Despite this sadness some great connections were once again made with the kids and it was great to be there for them. The numbers were really good too despite everything.
The team felt that there had been some big changes over the years and even in the last year in terms of the kids being able to better deal with arguments and fights and behaviour being better than ever. They felt a real impact is being made.
It was great to see some of the kids who have attended the program over the years but are now teenagers coming back to help out and hopefully we can engage them more as leaders.
The kids had some great activities and even got some music lessons that Faye will continue on with through the term. The musical instruments are being put to great use. Thanks again to ACMF for the ones that they donated.
Some great work was done on the Community Vege Garden led by Branden and the team with local kids helping out and Lara will continue on with that in the New Year and hopefully engage the new principal in getting kids more involved in it.
The next team goes in January 15th and keep an eye out later in January and February when some great photos will be posted on the website.
Ten wonderful Kowanyama kids came on this year's camp to Tarzali. They were kids in grade 6 -7 who were either regular youth group attendees and/or heading off to boarding school next year.
They had a wonderful week of fun and learning, swimming, kayaking, cooking, and sightseeing. They also went to Tjapukai Cultural Park where as well as seeing the shows they got to be a part of it - demonstrating some of Kowanyama's 'shake a leg' style!
It was a really good week to also talk about going to boarding school and what is needed when leaving home e.g. behaviour expectations, how to buy cheap clothes and toiletries etc. Each child was given a bag of goodies including toiletries that would be useful for when they leave home. Every child also won a prize either through their team's efforts on camp or individually for such efforts as 'kindness', 'helping', 'teamwork', 'leadership' etc.
Thank you to the Pine Rivers Zonta Women's club for sponsoring the five girls who came on camp.
A wonderful team of volunteers came again to run a great week of program. The kids were great and we had some great times through the week. May and Shona from IPSU (Indigenous Professional Support Unit) came along one afternoon and ran a workshop where the kids got to make their own Kowanyama book. May & Shona visit all around the communities and they commented on how well-behaved and lovely the kids were for us – good on ya Kowanyama Kids! There were lots of fun activities, stories, skits, singing, crafts and sports. Comments were made about the improvements in behaviour of some of the kids who have had problems in the past and sports and rec staff attributed some of this to our camps and programs! If it’s even half true that would be wonderful!
The team also managed to establish a community vegetable garden with the kids getting involved. This is also going to be an ongoing activity for the community and the kids both during and after school. Tomatoes and cucumbers are already coming on!
The week was topped off with the team running a great fun Learning & Living Fete day which provided fun and activities not just for the kids but also their families. There was a jumping castle supplied by Kowanyama Sports and Rec, limbo competitions, craft activities, giant screen video games, music jam sessions/rapping, fun stalls, face painting, child health nurse displays, jams and cakes. It also provided an opportunity for families to purchase goods for their kids such as school supplies, educational toys, kid’s books and children’s clothes all at way below cost to allow access for all families. This was a huge hit and we were still getting feedback weeks later on how much the community appreciated and loved it. Thanks so much to all those who along with the OTK volunteers, helped make it a success:
Also a special thankyou to Olive Waltham from Malanda Community Church who prepared a large proportion of the meals ahead of time for the team, giving us more time to focus on activities for the kids.
Out There Kowanyama Inc.'s 'In Here' program started out as a school rewards program at a time when nothing like that existed and school attendance and effort was very poor (this remains an issue but is slowly improving). This program ran well for several years but we've been examining if this is the best way to continue - now that there are actually quite a few opportunities for kids to get out on trips that depend on their behaviour and attendance at school.
So we have developed a different concept that we trialled last year in September.
Kowanyama Leadership Camp.
This is a camp run by us on the Atherton Tablelands that is specifically for Kowanyama kids. It is offered to all kids who have been regularly attending the weekly youth group in Kowanyama (who tend to be the kids who have been developing their leadership skills) and those who are on their way to boarding school in the next year. The focus is on leadership, resilience and preparing for boarding school as well as building on what the kids have been learning at youth group and at school.
The camp last year had a fantastic response. Many months’ later kids are constantly asking when it will be held again. Parents are even asking about it and commenting on how good they thought it was for their kids and that's unusual. Leaders who came on camp who work with the kids in Kowanyama commented on how wonderful it was to see the kids in a different setting where they had a peaceful, relaxed environment to discuss issues, learn and have fun.
This program is not covered by our grant so from this year onwards we will need to continue to raise funds for this and seek sponsorship for places. The more regular assistance we can get for this, the more of these camps we can run as we hope to run more than one per year.
This past December a team of 12 youth and adults (mostly from the Lakes Church Cairns) joined Out There Kowanyama (OTK) in running a holiday program for the children of the community.
There were lots of laughs and lots of holiday fun and activities with the children of the community.
There were many highlights however one would have been when the church and us together, put on a community carols night; the street was cordoned off with chairs and tarp out, dogs roaming, and manger set up. The whole team pitched in to do their bit from singing, acting, cooking, to dancing.
Locals made a magnificent manger scene complete with local actors playing Mary, Joseph and baby and there was corroborree led by community elders.
Amelia Britton (Team Director)
Great news! We've been able to purchase a vehicle that we had been looking for.
It is a Toyota HiAce Van, 14 seater in great condition.
The only thing it had wrong was some rust in the back tray and the gutters. It passed a full RWC the day before we bought it.
So we took it to be repaired for rust with the balance of the raised funds.
I chose to take it to Cairns Accident Repair Centre because it had always had a good reputation and I remember going there as a kid with my dad many times for rust work, and the owner Steve was always a really decent trustworthy guy.
The vehicle was towed there and I wasn't even sure if Steve was still there but when I rang up to make payment I was told "Steve said no charge." WOW. It seems that Steve remembered my dad and also knew this was for a charity (my guess anyway as I haven't spoken to him yet). Isn't that wonderful! So thanks Steve and we will use the surplus funds to pay for fuel and maintenance for the vehicle if all donors are happy with this?
The vehicle is going to be used for the following community/youth activities:
Thanks so much to all those who helped us raise funds for this.
January was a week of fun and laughter.
It was a first time for all but one of the team, and it was amazing to see the effect the community had on them all. Kowanyama has the ability to grab a person's heart and leave a BIG imprint.
The kids had a fun week with lots of crafts and some new songs.
The team enjoyed bringing God's word to the kids and all jumped into the song actions and bible story skits based around the newsflashes of biblical times.
We were all blessed by the fellowship enjoyed with Father Wayne and Val and their church family. As well as enjoying the time with local nurse Faye and Liz Cameron.
We have a variety of needs in a wide range of areas this year. We often get people asking how they can help and where they might be able to contribute. Hopefully this can give some of you some ideas and you will see there are lots of different opportunities to contribute and make a difference. Everything is appreciated…
Feel free to contact me if you need to discuss any of these any further.
With regards to volunteers for trips we really do need to try and plan a year in advance where possible so please get back to me as soon as possible if you think you might be interested – especially for April or June!!
a. IT trainers to provide remote training by phone/remote desktop on basics of operating a laptop/email/ powerpoint for Father Wayne and his wife Val at Kowanyama church for church and men’s group activities in future.
b. Someone based in Kowanyama to train Wayne and Val in setting up data projector to use powerpoint as above.
c. Volunteers who aren’t able to commit to a full trip but who are able to assist with driving teams or kids to and from cairns and kowanyama (will need to be over 25, experienced drivers of 4WD’s &/or buses with dirt road experience and ability to drive long stretches). Would be using a supplied vehicle.
d. Volunteers to come on trips:
i. June/July – volunteers for bigger teams, there may be some day trips as well as the usual program. One of the week long trips may also involve running an education themed school fair/market day. First timers welcome as well as regulars.
ii. September- 3-5 persons (could suit a family group, home group or group of friends) to run a low key program in conjunction with Liz’s youth centre. Prefer at least one team member to have been before and be prepared to direct. Potential to run day trips to swimming/fishing if can source bus driver and council bus available.
iii. September – persons who can assist with a Tablelands based camp for Kowanyama kids. Need week long leaders but also anyone who can assist in providing activities i.e. canoeing at Lake Tinaroo if someone has canoes etc.
e. People based in Cairns/tablelands who can help cook up meals and snacks to be frozen for teams/camps. (Food/food costs will be provided).
f. People based in Cairns who can:
i. Assist in transport of luggage/goods to truck depots etc.
ii. Assist in picking up/dropping off and/or billeting team members who come from out of town.
iii. Do shopping
iv. Be a base point for pick up of first aid kit and mobile phone
v. Be willing to store boxes of gear at their house sometimes for months at a time.
g. Who can help us find other volunteers – promote this in your church. We have a promo DVD available if required.
h. IT savvy person who has comes on trips or is a member to manage Website i.e. post up newsletters etc written up by others, distribute prayer points. Need to be able to do in a timely manner but not a lot needs to be done often.
2. Donations towards our vehicle or a vehicle suitable for us to purchase (we are looking for a secondhand 8-14 seater that is reliable and in good condition e.g. hiace)
3. Donations of 2nd hand slimline computer monitors to go with the units we have for the education centre in the youth centre that is being built.
4. Donations for the education/health themed market day/fair in June: (also if you know any businesses that may have excess stock in these areas that they’d like to donate please let them know about us!)
a. Clean quality 2nd hand clothing, bedlinen, curtains, towels. COATHANGERS!!
b. Working quality 2nd hand appliances e.g irons, electric frypans etc.
c. Baby goods
d. Pot plants – especially fruit trees and edibles ( would need to be able to hold on to them until June), seeds, other gardening gear.
e. Educational toys/soft toys
f. Books – especially children’s books
g. Colouring pens/textas/crayons/paper/notepads/colouring books/pencils etc
h. School bags and lunchboxes
i. Old working laptops
And someone in Cairns willing to be a drop off/storage person for some of the above items until we get them on the truck. (-:
The December Kowanyama team was extremely blessed to have such a large number of volunteers, each bringing a variety of gifts and abilities to share with the community. In turn, we were able to bless the community in more ways than we have been able to in the past. We were able to run many activities with the kids, including face-painting, Christmas card making, pool games, sports and movie nights along with songs and skits.
A real highlight was being able to run a Christmas carols nights at the old people’s home. This not only gave us the opportunity to sing some songs for the older members of the community, but also gave us the chance to spend some quality time talking with them and hearing some of their stories. We were also able to do some basic guitar lessons for the kids who were interested, with local clinic nurse Faye Spencer organizing to continue lessons with some of the kids.
The two main highlights of the trip, however, would have to be simply being able to spend time with the kids and sharing with them, along with being able to support the church, particularly Maud and Faye, through times of fellowship. We all look forward to making a return to Kowanyama in the future to continue this work.
This September holidays we tried something different – 20 Kowanyama kids came out to the Atherton Tablelands for a holiday leadership camp. They learned about standing strong in the storms of life and being a leader amongst their family, friends and community. They also got to have lots and lots of fun and new experiences. They went swimming each day in lakes and waterfalls, riding 4 wheelers, feeding cows, going on rainforest bushwalks, seeing tree kangaroos and platypus, meeting a Tablelands indigenous elder and foraging for fruit and berries in the orchard where they were staying. They had a great time and some of the kids had never been on a camp before so it was especially nice for them. As a group they were really quite well behaved and some of them won awards for exhibiting great leadership in serving others, being kind and helpful and showing their mates the right way.
We got some good feedback from parents afterwards too, commenting on how good it was for their kids.
Hopefully we will have the resources to do more of this, whilst ensuring in future that there are sufficient activities happening in the community for the kids who don’t make it onto camp.
Thanks to your kind support over the years we have been able to make some donations this year:
Out There Kowanyama Inc. have been able to help out Wayne and Val with some computer and audiovisual equipment that can be used by the church, youth group and the holiday program.We were also able to provide them with a trip out for a week recently using the return legs of our team charter to Kowanyama. They were able to get out and have a break and were able to take their three foster grandchildren out to spend time with their families before Christmas too - they were really needing that time away.
We have been able to help provide some food for the youth group evening meals.
Thanks to the Indigenous Literacy Project we have been able to provide some children’s books to the school – pictured here is Amelia receiving some of the books.
We'd also like to thank the Emagine Foundation for making contact via Tania Major and agreeing to contribute to an educational computer centre in the new youth centre that should be completed by January. We have been able to supply some educational software and used computers to this as well.
We would like to raise some money now to contribute to a shared used vehicle (people mover e.g. hiace) with the church that we can use during the holiday programs particularly in the wet season when we fly in and don’t have a vehicle and that can also be used by the weekly youth group as well. Any donations are gratefully received and much appreciated.
Please send an email letting us know if you would like your donation to be particularly used for this purpose - or not.
Thank you to Chris Dobbin and Curly Lauridsen who have kickstarted this fundraising with their generous donations.
Also if you are aware of a suitable people mover that is in Queensland or can be brought to Queensland that is for sale please let us know.
Have a safe and blessed Christmas.
Kowanyama School is very proud to announce the publication of two children’s story books which feature illustrations throughout by our Kowanyama State School students. Two titles have been produced, “Special Land” and “Insects”.
Kowanyama State School is located on the Western side of Cape York and is a P-10 school with an enrolment of approximately 200 students. Students from a range of year levels contributed drawings for the project, which have been influenced by their own personal styles as well as their home setting which is a traditional Aboriginal homeland for the Kokoberra, Kunjen and Kokominjena people representing five language groups. The community is one of the most remote and isolated in Queensland, being totally cut off (except by air) during the wet season. The receding waters from the wet leave a large area of ponds and wetlands inhabited by an enormous variety of tropical bird and animal life in a pristine setting.
The final product is of outstanding professional quality and is available for sale through the school office for $12.50 each. Please support the school and students through this venture.
Further information or orders contact the Kowanyama State School - Business Manager
April holiday program went very well. It was only a small team but we had great turnouts - sometimes up to 90 kids in a day. More importantly we had some great times with the kids and excellent opportunities to talk about important issues, education, behaviour etc. Some of the young kids who talked to us about often being in trouble for breaking in to places when they were bored and hungry were our most regular attenders - waiting first thing in the morning for breakfast and the fun activities, proudly telling us they'd gone to bed early the night before to be ready for the fun day!
Kids got to paint their own baseball caps, do pavement art on the floor of the closed pub that we were using as our space and lots of other fun activities. We played lots and lots of sport and pool games to work out all that energy which hopefully helped them sleep and have healthier, safer holidays.
One of the highlights was having a trip to the aged care hostel where one of the elders told the kids stories and had them listening respectfully. He then sang language songs whilst the kids got around in a circle and were encouraged to overcome their shyness and dance the aboriginal dances that many of them know. Once the ice was broken they got into it. The best part was when the elder said how glad it made his heart to see the kids dancing these dances and we were then able to talk about how good it felt to make others feel good - so it wasn't just about them getting all the fun stuff and not giving anything!
Other activities such as youth group, bible studies etc were on hold for that week as many people were away but reports are that these are all going very well.
Youth group continues to be a fantastic nurturing ground with most of the regular attenders being school captains or other such leaders. One recent youth group meeting was a great opportunity to talk about leadership qualities which Kay is thinking about using with the students at school as well.
A community BBQ was held on the last night we were there combined with a clothes stall. Clothes for all ages, genders and sizes were available as well as bedsheets and toys and shoes. These have all been kindly donated by Pine Rivers Zonta Women's club and were greatly appreciated by the community. Men, women and children came and chatted over piles of clothes, grateful for the opportunity to buy the clothes for 50c a piece. This meant everyone could afford some of the lovely things on offer but it also meant it wasn't a handout and also raised a little bit of money for the holiday program for Kowanyama kids. Community people seemed to really love it and kept asking when I was in the community a week later when we'd be doing that again!
The BBQ was lovely too and it was great to see families coming and watching their kids play and socialising happily in what used to the pub before the licence was lost and it became a dry community.
It was a lovely week - everyone seemed much happier than in times gone past and whilst not all problems are solved one had the feeling that things were on the way slowly. There were certainly a lot of positive things happening in the community. Let's hope that things keep moving forward for Kowanyama.
January was a month of happenings!
Another great team went in this January and gave the kids a great time. Most of the team had come from as far as Melbourne and at least one of them has committed to coming regularly! I was in Kowanyama for work as well as helping out with the program and the kids were very grateful for our teams as there had been little or no sports and rec staff around so therefore nothing to do when we weren’t there.
Also in January we had another successful In Here school rewards program organized by Tim Hall with 9 lovely boys winning a trip to Splashout Scipture Union camp. It was a very rewarding experience and they had a really memorable time. Thanks again to Adele Turpin of Kowanyama for accompanying them in her own time and also volunteering on the Splashout camp.
Liz Cameron also returned to Kowanyama this month – Liz was the sports and rec officer who worked very closely with us for a couple of years before leaving about a year or so ago. She must have missed the kids as much as we do when we’re not there! We are so happy to have her back and to be able to work with her and her Kowanyama staff again.
I (Lara Wieland – treasurer of OTK Inc and coordinator of the holiday program) also returned to Kowanyama in a different capacity this month. I previously worked as a doctor in Kowanyama from 2000-2004 and I now return part time to the community as a doctor again. I hope to be able to utilize my position in both health and OTK Inc to have a greater impact for the community in both!
Also this month Kay Graham and Amelia Britton returned from school holidays for yet another year of teaching and guiding and caring for Kowanyama kids! What amazing ladies!
Kay and Amelia- ‘our’ teachers in Kowanyama, have been making some real inroads with the kids there, especially the older boys who are struggling with some major issues.
Many of these kids went on the Scripture Union Cave camp as a reward for continuing good behaviour and attendance in class. They raise the funds themselves and ask their parents (encourages parents to spend on their kids and see how happy it makes them and to increase responsibility) for the camp fees but we received sponsorship for the flights. This was a fantastic maturing experience for the boys.
Yet another great team went up and provided a fantastic program for the kids. A special thrill for many of them was seeing Jenny Bell on team. Jenny had worked as a nurse for 3 years many years before and had known many of the kids since they were born and it was great for the kids and the team to have her on board showing the community she still cares for them and remembers them.
The team had a motor vehicle accident just out of town leaving Kowanyama which wrote the car off. One team member had to be flown out to check on things as there was noone to take x-rays in town but thankfully all were ok! What a miracle!
A small team but a good week. With some assistance from the child health team and the generous time of the Visual Obsession video production crew we made a “Healthy Living for Kowanyama Kids” DVD as an activity which used the kids own voices and acting to tell their peers about healthy living. This DVD will be available in the community from Feb 09.
Two teams went in for a week each. The first week was a little quiet sadly due to a couple of funerals but it was still good for the kids to have some activities in-between.
This also marked the last week in town for Tim and Leanne Hall (and baby Zoe) who sadly left Kowanyama after a year of living and working there. They return to Cairns but will remain heavily involved in Out There Kowanyama Inc.
The second team ran some Christmas activities and were able to help the RFDS with their Christmas party for the kids. It was another good week that the kids were talking about weeks later when we came in in January.
We are very grateful and thrilled to have an accountant from Canberra offer to do our books for free. He and his wife have been generous (but wishing to remain anonymous) donors to our Cave camp program and now are donating their valuable time to free us volunteers on the ground more.
(please support these clubs and businesses)
“I am personally exceptionally grateful to the team for helping me with our sport and recreation break up presentation dinner. The team did the BBQ and readied the food and served it. They were unreal and it allowed me time to do other things like the presentations for the kids. The kids were busy everyday at the youth centre in the morning doing lots of cooking and other activities and then they had the afternoon at the pool. We also had a movie night and a breakdance night.”
Liz Cameron, Kowanyama Sports and Recreation officer, December 06
“The program is the best thing since sliced bread. It is the only thing in the community that gives these kids any goal or direction in the time they are out of school.” There have also been comments on a perceived drop in juvenile crime rate when we are running the program in the community.
The Justice Group which comprises elders in the community states that they support us receiving funding on the basis that it would "lead to a safer, happier, more progressive environment” for the kids.
“Let me say that the continuation of this program is vital to our Community as it is having such good results amongst the young people, is well supported by the Council and the school and the teachers especially love it as it keeps the kids active in the holiday times in structured activities. This in turn, helps the children to cope better with returning to the very structured school environment after the freedom of the holidays.” “We are talking about impacting people’s lives and that requires time and dedication. The dedication and commitment shown by the volunteers has been selfless and humbling. I have been so thankful of their help and dedication and it is humbling to know that they do it all out of their love for the kids and the Community. It is only those dedicated ones who walk the walk who will truly have an influence here.”
iN hERE is a program we have started that is intended to encourage good school attendance and effort, broaden kids horizons and expand their dreams. It was inspired by many comments and suggestions from Kowanyama kids but particularly Alfred who was 14 at the time and said we should have a trip to Cairns to reward the kids doing the right thing at school and not just camps for juvenile offenders. Now iN hERE offers a fully paid trip to a fun holiday camp run by Scripture Union Queensland on the Atherton Tablelands called ‘Splash Out’ as a prize to kids who have been nominated by teachers and community as good attenders making a good effort at school. The trip also provides opportunities to meet other kids from all walks of life and to have different experiences.
We use funds raised by the holiday program volunteers and also receive sponsorship now from:
The first iN hERE program ran this January. Five girls won a prize for good school effort and attendance. They came to the Atherton Tablelands for a week long fun camp called ‘Splash Out”. The weekend before though they were treated to a weekend of great fun and good experiences. Thanks to the generosity of Matthew Beh & Adrian Grossman they enjoyed a day of water-skiing and tubing on Lake Tinaroo. Then they got to go spotlighting for wildlife on a late night rainforest walk on Reg & Olive’s place after Olive had provided a lovely dinner and toasted campfire marshmallows on their scenic verandah. They loved it and even got to see a rare Herbert River Possum which is black and white. Olive is an accomplished artist and gave each of the girls a card of her artwork to take home. Olive and Reg go to Ron & Lara’s church and kindly donated this lovely evening. Thanks Reg & Olive Waltham.
The next day after a visit to Ron & Lara’s church and a buffet lunch there they enjoyed an afternoon of swimming, kayaking, 4 wheeler rides and rope swings at Ron & Lara’s property. An impromptu birthday cake and party was held for one of the girls whose birthday it was.
Then on to the camp where they had great new experiences, got to meet lots of new people and even made some new friends who have since said they want to correspond with the girls. They learnt a lot about themselves and about life.
Interestingly the parents of these girls came out in full force to proudly see them off at the airport as they left which was a nice surprise. It has long been a sorrow of many people who live in or have worked in this community that this is a rare occurrence unless it is for a funeral or someone going to jail. So this celebration of their achievement was wonderful to see.
I have had continuing reports from various people who have been in touch with the girls or are in Kowanyama that they continue to rave about how great the trip was and what an impact it had on them. We hope this inspires many other kids to try really hard at school this year. Education is so important for these children’s future.
Well done to Tim & Leanne Hall for organising the program and the great week for the girls and to Kay Graham for welcoming them into the great Splash Out camp she runs.
Thanks also to the girls’ escorts Liz Cameron and Adele Turpin who volunteered their time and helped out on the camp.
G'day all, for those who haven’t met me, my name is Graham and I directed the January Holiday Program. It was a very busy time for me leading up to the trip, but I soon became aware that it was a bit hectic for each of the team’s members in one way or another.
As much as our team of seven came to “serve” in Kowanyama it was pretty clear that we all gelled in a special way serving each other, and in turn served the kids and the community in a passionate way.
My personal insecurity and fears of keeping a successful trip were all but gone.
Mornings were a bit slow in attendance numbers but numbers wasn’t our concern, this in some ways was a blessing and more one on one time was encouraged and in turn stronger relationships were developed with the kids.
Afternoon activities were generally based at the local pool with lots of kids attending but the leaders were pretty exhausted after splashing with the energetic kids. I and all involved feel we again had a positive influence on the community and the kids, and walked away with experience, thoughts, passions and visions that can only be put down to..., that we served Kowanyama using our talents and gifts in the best way we knew how.
Just to finish up, as being part of the first trip we ran back in 2004, I can’t help but to point out the differences that I have seen from, then to now, in the kids behaviour, body language, decline in verbal abuse and swearing and the seemingly strong connections that has developed between leaders and kids, call it global warming? But I cant help but to think that there is a God who loves the kids of Kowanyama as much as he loves you and me... what do you think???
Once again a diverse team of teachers, psychologists, students, retirees, environmental planners, speech pathologists & youth workers arrived in Kowanyama for a week of fun and games. Nadine O’Farrell capably directed the program and each leader was inspired by her enthusiasm and encouragement each morning. Despite the diversity of the group, we had common goals – to support the local Christians working to help the kids, develop relation- ships with the youth and the children. This was achieved through a range of day and night activities. Chris and Geoff used their gifts of music, drama and teaching in the morning session. Following the morning sessions, we had very powerful discussions with the children about: youth suicide, drugs, violence, black magic, grace, forgiveness and freedom. An important goal of our program was to support and encourage the Turpin mob as well as Liz Cameron, Sport and Rec Officer. During the week we were able to assist her with the catering for the Annual Football dinner and presentations. A highlight for many of the team members was the clothes store. The women found it particularly interesting as it gave them an opportunity to meet and greet adult women from the community. A large amount of money was raised and the proceeds went towards providing Christmas hampers to some of the poorer families of Kowanyama. Another highlight was singing Christmas carols to the elderly at the old people’s home. The children loved singing the songs that they had been practising all week and some of the children put on a juggling display! We left Kowanyama exhausted but encouraged by what is happening in Kowanyama.
The decision to go this October was last minute for a variety of reasons so a big team wasn’t put together. This meant that only I and my husband Ron ended up going. This still worked out well as we were able to work in with and help Liz Cameron the sports and rec coordinator that we now work with in Kowanyama. It also provided a continuous presence for our team which we feel is an important part of what we do in the community. Even though we weren’t a huge entertaining team the kids were so happy and relieved to see that we were continuing to come and hadn’t ceased caring about them and their community. It ended up being more in line with our future directions of running very small teams of regulars in April and October that provide continuity and support for Liz and the locals she is training up, whilst June and December remain opportunities to bring in larger teams who bring a variety of new experiences and talents to the community and new people get a chance to serve Kowanyama.
We learnt to be far more flexible with our program this time. We agreed that the most important part of our program was the singing, bible teaching and discussion groups and so we waited until we had the maximum number of children. If this meant us continuing and doing it in the middle of our lunch break we did it. We were there to share our faith, hope and love to this kids and nothing was going to stop us.
The morning programs generally consisted of indoor activities such as jewellery making, puppets, painting, Calico bag painting, Christmas Cards as well as utilising the ping pong tables and pool table. We found that the pool table was a good means of getting the older youth involved. If it was a quiet morning we put a DVD on. By lunch we had at least 50 kids participating in an activity. On some days we had up to 70 children and youth. We would then have an awesome time of singing with the kids. It was so great to hear the kids request songs and teach us the actions. Joseph and Rozina would then teach them new songs from the Torres Strait or Africa. We noticed the children really related to these songs. Joseph taught them several African songs, which they particularly loved. Following the music, the leaders would do a fun skit to demonstrate a point of Joseph’s bible story. The children loved the skits and they frequently requested us to repeat the skits. It was an answer to prayer to see 50 children sit and listen attentively to Joseph tell bible stories.
The night programs that we ran were our only real opportunity to make contact with the teenagers of the community. As there is very little organised social activities in Kowanyama, being able to run night activities not only enabled us to help out Liz Cameron but it also gave us a chance to get to know the teenagers as well. Hearing some of the stories they have of their pasts and the dreams they have for the future put in perspective how privileged we are in our lives. Some of the activities we ran included a movie night and helping Liz Cameron run the football club break-up and disco.
Through the kind donations from some churches in Cairns and Samford Uniting Church in Brisbane, we were able to assemble 4 Christmas Hampers for some of the poorer families in Kowanyama. The hampers included cleaning items, personal care, a washing basket and nice food, which they would not be able to purchase in Kowanyama. These hampers were very much needed and appreciated.
The Kowanyama School Holiday program was successful in obtaining a small grant from Department of Family and Community Services. This came through in October.
This grant will enable the program to continue. It goes towards transport costs and some equipment for the team. By continuing to contribute through team member's contributions, fundraising and donations we are able to use this money wisely to continue this program and use the extra funds raised to not only support this program but also the iN hERE program (see follow news item) and local missionaries now providing some activities for the kids. Not one cent of this money is used for administration (the small Scripture Union Queensland administration fee is contributed by team members) and none of the dedicated coordinators draw a wage of any kind or claim any personal expenses.
September saw us taking a team of six people up to Kowanyama. As well as some faithful regulars we had a couple of new team members ranging from a 17 year old to a 45 year old each with their own special skills and talents and all really dedicated to serving Kowanyama kids. We were very fortunate to have a team member who is related to some of the kids who come to our program. The kids loved it and it was great for them to have a strong indigenous male role model. Jack was also a great role model and encouragement for us on the team as well. We found out that the council has employed a sports and recreation coordinator called Liz. Liz came down to the program and helped out. She has worked in remote communities before and has some great ideas for things to do with the kids there which is great.
We also heard some other wonderful news that a young man from Kowanyama who had gone away to boarding school has gone to theological college and says he wants to come back to Kowanyama as a pastor. This is even more amazing if you know that for a kid from Kowanyama to even finish school and avoid a life of substance abuse, jail or suicide is unfortunately an amazing achievement. Please pray for him as well, his name is Dion.
The most amazing thing was kids who remembered those who had been before and warming straight away to those who were new. The work of the previous year, laying a foundation of trust with the community, had made a lasting impact. Having the program over a two-week period helped the community realise that our commitment to Kowanyama is for the long term. Having developed a sense of trust with the community over the past 18 months, we were able to serve the community as whole more effectively. In the past our involvement has been only with the kids, but one of the highlights of the week was putting on a free barbecue for the adults of the community and selling donated clothes for a minimal donation, which everyone in the community greatly appreciated. Another highlight of the week was being able to give much more support to the local minister and church, especially the family who has been our main contact in Kowanyama.
Things like helping with a Sunday night worship service and praying with the minister may not seem like much, but our Willingness to support them has been a great encouragement to spur them on. Similarly their faithfulness in a difficult situation is always an inspiration to the team members Many people on the team couldn’t and still can’t wait until the next mission to take place so that they can continue to support the people of Kowanyama.
In the second last week of June a team made up of youth and experience headed to Kowanyama to run an 8 day vacation care program, and more importantly share the love of Jesus. For many it was the first time to an aboriginal community or working on a mission team. What followed the bumpy 10 hour drive was an amazing 7 days of relationship building, games and sharing with the children and adult Christians in the community. One of the most powerful experiences was the worship nights and hearing the children respond to the bible stories each morning - coming to understand Jesus' Gift and his unconditional love. It was great that many of the children remembered returning members of the team and things they had learnt in the past. It was also great to see the joy on each child's face after enjoying the games. But probably the most important part was the fellowship of receiving and providing encouragement to the local Christians. From this small amount of time spent serving and sharing, the people of Kowanyama will remain strong in the memories and prayers of each of the leaders, many indicating a strong desire to return on future missions.
Another exciting outcome of this trip was that the Director Dave Wood managed to design and organise the building of a BMX track for the kids! The road gang just happened to be close to town ready to use their heavy machinery. Thanks to the council and a special thanks to their engineer Peter—and well done Dave!
As the team were travelling to Kowanyama a few weeks before Christmas, the suggestion was made to provide Christmas hampers for some of the poorer families of Kowanyama. 5-6 Hampers were donated by various churches including Samford Valley Uniting Church/Young Adults, Northern Beaches AOG, Centenery Lakes Church of Christ and Cairns Baptist Church. Hampers included basic food items, toys, luxury items (chocolate!) as well as practical household items such as toothpaste, soap, nappies, washing detergent. A hamper was also given to Eddie and Adelle Turpin to encourage them in their ministry in Kowanyama.
In the middle of the December heat of far north Queensland, a team of 11 went to Kowanyama as a part of the oUT tHERE program, bringing not only a healthy and different range of activities and games but the love of Christ as well. Being Christmas, we had the opportunity of sharing with them the story of Christmas and handing out presents to all the kids.
It was amazing to see God working in the lives of the volunteers on our team that week, giving energy to everyone when we should have almost collapsed from exhaustion.
The highlights of the week we spent in Kowanyama would have to be the joy on the faces of kids who were experiencing this unconditional love of Christ that we brought with us. Even though the local Christian community works overtime all year round to minister to these kids, our group being able to support their efforts has a huge impact. The most encouraging time of the week for most of our team would have been taking the opportunity we had of forming deeper relationships with a few kids and seeing that we had made a difference as they couldn’t wait for our return.
We had some great opportunities to talk with the kids and really listen to what they had to say. We asked them what they wanted and there were some recurring themes. Most of the older kids said they wanted a youth centre but specified it had to be run by “someone strict”. They wanted it to be a place of safety and security as well as a place of entertainment. Most of the younger kids said they wanted a nice playground. Some kids said they wanted their to be sports and activities to be run on weekends. Many kids said they wished there was water in the pool and someone to run it.
One young fellow suggested that there be an excursion to Cairns or similar for all those kids who were regular school attendees "you know - looking at the school roll.” Not a bad idea!
The team decided to try doing things differently for this trip. We extended the program to include evenings as this seemed to be when the kids were most active and looking for something to do. We also attempted to split the program into children and youth to cater more specifically for the different age groups. In one example we did jewellery making for small kids and for older kids we had more intricate jewellery making gear that required a bit more skill. The older teen- age girls loved this and really appreciated that something had been done especially for them. They loved being able to make something they could take home and keep and many of them wanted to make gifts for their grandparents. It was also a great chance to talk to them in depth and share as we strung beads. They shared their thoughts and dreams and it was a special and informative time. (See "Feedback From Kids")
The turnout was smaller this time with about 30 kids per session. The up side was being able to interact more meaningfully with these kids and probably have more impact on a personal level.
The downside was the reasons we were being given for the smaller turnout.
The children told us that many of their peers were ‘hung-over’ and that the kids were up all night drinking, smoking dope and sniffing petrol (a relatively new phenomenon in Kowanyama). Many of the older kids that came every day in July were sleeping all day and putting in a brief bleary-eyed appearance late afternoon, disappointed that they’d missed out on things.
Sly grog was everywhere and the kids were telling us that adults were bringing in huge amounts and were selling “fruity lexia cask wine” to the kids. Dropping kids at home at night we still found many times we’d be dropping them to intoxicated house- holds or empty homes where adults were at the pub and we’d have to find somewhere else to take them.
We are constantly looking at how we can make an impact in this situation and use our program to make a difference in the community.
December is wet season. It’s looking dry at the moment but its risky to rely on dry roads. So plans are underway to try and get a good deal on charter flights. Will be a great relief to those who have driven the 9 hours on a dusty bumpy road in the past! We will be running a full and exciting day program with one or two nights for movies and/or campfires. Dates are 12th-17th December.
The second trip to Kowanyama for mid-year school holidays went well. An average of 40-50 kids per session attended. A small team of eight leaders worked hard to provide a great full program for the kids. The children were happy to see the team return and it was great to see they remembered returning team member’s names and asked after those who didn’t return this time. Eddie & Adele Turpin and family - a Kowanyama family (pictures) who have been doing some of their own youth work in Kowanyama were greatly encouraged and enjoyed our visit. It helped them to feel less isolated and encouraged them to restart their work in the community. Team director Lara found it great to be back in the community after having spent three years as resident doctor their form 2000-2003 and hearing from several people how much better their lives were under the new Alcohol Management Plans.