The Watarrka Foundation is committed to the creation of thriving, independent and self-reliant aboriginal communities living on their ancestral land. With supporting goals that focus on projects around environmental sustainability, education, healthy lifestyle and independent livelihoods.
Since its inception, the foundation, in conjunction with the local communities and the foundation’s supporters, has been very successful in fulfilling several great projects. They work very closely with the Watarrka School and the traditional owners’ community of Lilla where the school is located.
In 2018 a secondary classroom (including a great IT room, library space, a wonderful big kitchen classroom and more) was built and opened. The goal was to provide older students with the facilities to continue their education to year 10 in their own community, rather than relocating at least 500 km away to attend secondary school.
Other projects have included air conditioning for the primary classroom, creating vegetable gardens and planting fruit trees, fantastic new playground equipment, a basketball court and, perhaps the children’s favourite, a fleet of 24 Fat Bikes that are perfect for the sandy conditions. All these great achievements support and encourage the children to attend school.
But the big event, which the children most look forward to, is the annual Lilla Sports and Story Telling Festival. Each year the foundation brings together sponsors and volunteers to organise, fund and run this wonderful event, with the aim of inspiring kids to attend school and to appreciate the many opportunities education can offer. The motto for the 2019 Lilla Festival was ‘It’s cool to go to school’.
Students aged 6-15 travelled up to 4 hours from Areyonga School and Haasts Bluff School to join the children from Lilla and take part in 3 days of activities including music, poetry, drama, dance, sports and games. The 40 or so youngsters, many of whom had never met each other before or travelled to visit another school, made quick friends. Visitors were welcomed by way of a smoking ceremony conducted by the traditional owners, then the Lilla students, who had swarmed to greet the newcomers and introduce themselves, showed everyone to their camps. Everyone bubbled with anticipation.
Two members of our The Source Bulk Foods support team, Tanya and Kirsten, had the great privilege of attending The Watarrka Foundation 2019 festival as volunteers. They returned lost for words, awestruck by the beauty of the place and the knowledge of the people who call it home. While there, they saw firsthand the excitement and enthusiasm the theme ‘It’s cool to go to school’ generated amongst the children. Campfire stories from visiting locals including park rangers, medical staff, educators and hospitality operators, with yarns about career changes, travel and other adventures, illustrated some of the reasons to pursue an education and some of the future employment opportunities in the region.
Whether it was sleeping in a swag under the widest starlit sky in the world or everyone mucking in with the other visitors and the kids to get the endless pile of dishes done after each meal; quietly listening to the sounds of the wind for a poetry activity or creating a cacophony of percussion instruments; sliding in the red dust for home base as everyone cheered on or giggling away at the antics of an evening session of ‘quiet’ Olympics; or just having a chat under a tree with a group of new mates; each moment was filled with joyous fun, enthusiasm, learning and a deep sense of communal sharing.
Tanya and Kirsten also had a fantastic opportunity to utilise the kitchen classroom to show the kids how to make their own scrumptious Bliss Balls. After a chat about the meals the students usually prepared in the kitchen, and an intro to the recipe and ingredients, the real fun began. The kids had a great (if fairly, ok – very messy) time measuring ingredients before getting their hands into the bowl and squishing it all together. The renamed ‘Yumbo Balls’ (after Remote Educational Tours purple ‘ Yumbo’ bus) were proudly shown off and shared, with just a few samples lasting for the trip home! Luckily the students (and teachers) had recipe sheets with plenty of suggested variations, to take home and share with friends and family.
While staying at Lilla, the volunteers also had some wonderful opportunities to be guided by local elders and the fantastic team from RET to visit some of the sacred sites in the Watarrka region and, after the festival, at Uluru and Kata Tjuta. To hear the stories and see the amazing sites that these ancient places relate to opened the hearts of everyone present and left each person forever changed. All the attendees felt truly honoured and privileged to be so warmly welcomed by the wonderful people of Lilla and Watarrka, who so generously shared their time and knowledge.
The Source Bulk Foods looks forward to continuing our support of this wonderful foundation and the great initiatives it is working towards. And we can’t wait to create more fun (and mayhem) in the kitchen classroom next festival!
Did you know…
Take a look at the 2019 Lilla Sports & Story Telling Festival video:
Visit the Watarrka Foundations website to find out more about their great achievements.
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