Posted by Oakhill College
on 27 March 2019
Leah McDonald Oakhill Alumni 2018
Most days of the week in Balgo are filled with Teacher Aid work in Luurnpa Catholic school in Primary B Year 1 / 2. Every minute spent in this classroom although challenging has brought me so much joy. Each person in the community has so much to offer; it has been so eye opening to be in a place that functions so culturally different to that of my own upbringing. Weekends are often spent climbing the most breath taking red mountains, that encapsulate the whole community; while many of the nights have been spent in complete awe of the sky where darkness is replaced by 1000s of bright shining stars.
The staff has welcomed us Lasallian Volunteers in with completely open arms and made Balgo feel like home. Every Saturday at 5.00pm there is a mass at the local chapel, this is a beautiful ceremony to attend and is heightened by a balance of English and local language (Kukatja). When we first arrived the elders of the community performed a welcome blessing and this has been a huge highlight in hindsight of my experience, and has since further sparked my interest to learn more about the cultural practices.
We have had the pleasure of going to visit the Art Centre on various occasions. We have visisted places with the school that conduct this every Monday afternoon. The students and myself have learnt so much about the Wirrimanu Dreaming and history of the local people. So far, this experience has been nothing short of life changing and the constant smiles and laughs of each person I encounter makes each moment a blessing.
Alex Murrie Oakhill Alumni of 2018
Life in Balgo with our Lasallian brothers and sisters at Luurnpa Catholic School has really allowed me to appreciate the diversity of our Lasallian Community. Volunteering as a teacher aid in the Primary School in a Kindergarten / Pre-Primary class has been a confronting experience, especially regarding the children's health.
Each morning the children practice blowing their noses after morning sport which I initially found shocking as almost every child seemed to have a blocked nose. I also noticed majority of children run around without shoes, their feet and legs have multiple open wounds which they don't get treated or cleaned. Many kids also have dental and auditory issues from chronic treatable illnesses and wear hearing devices in the classroom - things I had never been exposed to at Oakhill. However, these issues are easily forgotten throughout the day as I am privileged to share beautiful little moments with my students such as when they tackle me in the school pool during class swimming lessons, when they ask to carry your bags at the community shop, or wear your sunglasses hat and shoes, the pleas for piggy backs at the local basketball court and when they feel the confidence to join in at our local "Zoomba".
The first two months in their community, while confronting has been overwhelmingly filled with these little moments, which give me the drive to keep going each day, complimented by the amazing staff who we share these moments with. I am excited for the year and the small impacts we can make on the community including the basketball competition we aim to implement so to better engage the local high school students.