Matt is settling in well to his new job – and the staff around him are friendly and welcoming. The schools up here have a high staff turnover so there are lots of new staff at Amata Anangu School this year. The principal and deputy appear to be strong leaders, and Matt is pleased to have them to learn from. The pool in Amata is a hub for the tjiitjiis (kids). But at the moment, keeping the pool open is a bit of an issue. We have a pool manager, but he needed a DCSI clearance (don’t even ask me what that stands for but it basically means if you’ve done anything bad, you haven’t been caught yet!) because of recent cases of crimes against children, these clearances have been taking months to come through, and unfortunately the pool manager doesn’t have his. Matt volunteers me (who has a DCSI clearance and senior first aid being an RN) to hang out at the pool so we can keep it open. If the pool isn’t open, often the kids will resort to swimming in the open sewer ponds, called the kuna ponds (pronounced Goona and means shit – so the shit ponds) because they can’t swim at the pool. Kids on the APY aren’t a priority for the government it seems. So I go and hang out at the pool with the kids for 3 days so that the pool can remain open. The Anangu kids LOVE the pool. They swarm in when it opens, when the pool manager blares slightly lame 80s music from the loudspeaker to let the town know it’s open. These kids – tiny tjiitjiis all of 4 years old are amazing swimmers! They far outstrip my nearly 4 year old who has had ample access to swimming pools! And they are delightful. The big kids take the baby from me and swim away with her! The smaller kids Mins age are trying to coax him into the pool to play with them. They ask me who I am and if I’m a teacher, I explain that my husband Matt is and they want to know everything about me and the kids. Some of the older girls ask me where I’m from. I tell them Adelaide, but I also tell them of my family link to Ernabella. I try my desert language on them and they fall over laughing at me! I ask them if I’m wrong – and they say “uwa! It’s right!” But they laugh at me all the same, which makes me laugh too! I guess I must have funny pronounciation! Min has always loved older girls – so he makes friends with some of the girls. There are fights to break up, dogs to chase out, backflips to stop, but by and large the kids are really good, they know that they’ll get kicked out if they’re not. The pool is also tied to attendance, so during the school term if they spend the day at school they get a wristband which means that they can go to the pool. Floating in this beautiful sea-green pool, surrounded by red dirt, magnificent ranges, laughing kids; it’s easy to think that Amata is an idylic paradise, without all the social issues, crime, violence, dysfunction and poverty. But for today, in this moment, I can close my eyes and smile to myself – I love it here.
4 thoughts on “Pooled Resources ”
Hi Liz. Happy you all made it safely. I can empathise with your feelings of belonging and not belonging at the same time. I felt like that when I visited the birth country of my parents who were both refugees and met here in Australia where I was born. Stay true to your heart. Its going to be an amazing spiritual journey for you. x
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thanks so much Sue! i think you’re right!
your words paint such a lovely picture! it is wonderful that the children are learning about you… i have a feeling that you are going to learn from/about them as well… they may be your first real teachers there (they can help you with the language!) and offer you an amazing re-entry into your culture! your children too! i am very happy for you! 🙂
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thanks so much!!