Image by Flowofwoe supplied under creative commons licence
Until a few years ago I associated christmas with mulled wine, runny noses and bad pullovers.
I still struggle to find the fa-la-la-la-la spirit in the sub tropics when I’m trundling my trolley up and down supercharged air-conditioned aisles in flip-flops (thongs) buying salad for dinner again.
My picture frames haven’t seen a tacky bit of tinsel for years. And instead of sending cards, I make a donation to charity.
This year, I donated the money to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF) to buy books for children in remote communities in Australia.
It really is hard to get your head around how big Australia is until you travel through it and understand the challenges faced in some communities. Despite the fact that Australia is a rich country, only roughly a third of people in remote communities have access to a library and books.
As a child in the UK I took books for granted seen as though they were freely available to everyone through schools and libraries.
In 2012 the ILF supplied 85,000 books in 230 remote communities. The foundation started from humble beginnings after Suzy Wilson – an independent bookshop owner – set up what has grown into one of Australia’s great success stories in its own right, making a real difference to the lives of children in remote communities. A read of the ILF’s history reveals why it works so well.
Relationships with communities have been built on respect, understanding and true consultation. More than half of Indigenous families living in very remote communities speak an Indigenous language in the home. (ABS, 2001) Therefore, some children need extra assistance to learn English as a second language. The foundation promotes both cultural and English literacy side-by-side.
The books are selected by an Indigenous literacy specialist in consultation with childrens’ book specialists and elders within the communities and the foundation has translated some books into local language.
But I think the icing on the Christmas cake is that some of the children have become writers and their stories have been published.
The Naked Boy and the Crocodile is a collection of thirteen stories written by children aged 5-10 years, living in remote communities across Australia.
Children tell tales of playing with friends, riding motorbikes, picking berries, hunting for emu eggs and wild pigs.
For christmas, why not give your child a window into this special part of Australia while giving a child in a remote community the gift of reading? $16.99 will buy the book and send two more books to children in remote communities.
You can also donate to the foundation on behalf of a relative or friend. If you do it before 17th December they will send a christmas card to let them know. How ironic is that? Ho Ho Ho.