John France (Langports Founder) was the first person at Langports to be introduced to the Aboriginal community of Cherbourg by Waverley Stanley, the founder of Yalari (www.yalari.org). Waverley was invited to visit his hometown at the end of the school year, to present certificates at the school he attended as a child. Waverley invited John to join him. John was deeply moved by the occasion and the children at the school. He decided then and there that we should help the school Principal in anyway we could. Attendance rates had been a concern to the Principal and he was trying to find ways to improve this.
We offered to provide each primary school child with a book at the end of the year and one very special prize for one boy and girl in each class. This special prize was to recognise attendance and improvement during the school year. These end of year visits by The Langports Foundation with prizes supports the Principal’s work to reward school attendance. The children remember each year we are coming and there is much excitement about our visit.
At the same time we began our first visit, the Cherbourg community elders were working hard to set up a Museum in the small town to tell their stories and so we now always visit the Museum and speak with the elders. I cannot tell you how much their Museum has grown and how proud I am to see them have the opportunity to let the world know what happened in the Missions that were set up by the Australian Government in the early 1900’s. It is story that many don’t know.
On Thursday 30th November this year, Waverley Stanley offered to drive his Foundation mini-bus to take eleven students to Cherbourg. I followed in my car with four more as so many students wanted to come to help us give our prizes. It took over 4.5 hours driving through the country roads of west Queensland to arrive at the small town of Murgon and it’s only motel. That night we enjoyed a country roast meal and a workshop about Aboriginal people and the community of Cherbourg.
The next morning we were up early to drive to Cherbourg and arrived at the Ration Shed Museum to meet with a Cherbourg Elder, Uncle Eric, who is a proud leader of his community. He told us many stories from the days of “Protection”, to “Domination” and finally “Self Determination”. He was the first Aboriginal Superintendent who ran the mission in 1988. He is living history.
We then went to the local school and provided morning tea for the staff before our students went into a classroom for two hours before lunch. Each student had a different experience, with children aged four to ten years of age. During this time the Principal and I visited each class to present the special prize. It was lovely to see so many happy faces and the excitement when they received their story books and special prizes.
Thank you to all the Gold Coast students who came along on this trip. I am sure you all had a unique experience. I would like thank them for their time to prepare a PowerPoint presentation to talk about their countries to the children and representing Langports in a professional and caring manner. It was really a two way street of learning. One of the Aboriginal elders who helps out at the school said to me at the end of the day, “It’s amazing that you came all that way and you care about our community, it brings tears to my eyes.”
Thank you to our staff and students who also care and help to raise money so we can make these donations that do make a difference to the lives of dis-advantaged children.
May I be the first to wish you all a very Merry Christmas.
Susie and her group would like to share their experience with you!