From political storms to climate change, bad news surrounds us. The 24 hours news cycle is exhausting, the negative images far outweighing the positive.
And it seems when it comes to ‘schoolies’ we rarely hear any good news stories. So I was thrilled to get an update from the Emmanuel College on their recent Alternative Schoolies Program in Timor-Leste.
On my last trip to Atauro Island I blogged about a special buzz going on at Boneca de Ataúro, a successful women’s co-operative empowering impoverished women to grow and work with dignity. Emmanuel College were making a difference…
“I detected a buzz in the air. The clatter of the pedal power seemed a little more intense.
The sewing machines had spilled out on to the open verandah out the back.
Every machine was busy. I could see piles of fabric, cut out ready to go.
Turns out they had an order for 400 or so laptop bags for Emmanuel College in Warrnambool, Australia. That’s 6 months of work with guaranteed payment.
The school has established an on-going relationship, with a group of recently graduated year 12 students travelling to Atauro each year. The group arriving in November for a 9 day stay will bring the laptop bags home to be used by students next year.
Fast forward to today and not only have all 400 or so laptop covers made it home, the Alternative Schoolies Program has enriched the lives of many.
New friends were made, cultural exchanges took place, English lessons and beach clean ups happened, snorkelling and hammock time filled in the gaps. The simplicity of island life, the backdrop for an Alternative Schoolies scene.
The video says it all. It’s 6 minutes of positive news….
‘The students and our staff have just returned; tired, very tired, but extraordinarily enriched by their experience. A highlight from my perspective was their meeting the women who handmade the laptop bags and seeing them at work. They then had the huge task of packing the 450 bags which they returned to Warrnambool ready to distribute to new students in 2020.’
New to the concept of Alternative Schoolies?
This excerpt is from the Emmanuel College Website:
The Emmanuel College Alternative Schoolies program is a significant initiative that has been running since 2013. It provides a unique opportunity for senior students to travel overseas and immerse themselves in another culture while serving a small community. Emmanuel College has established an ongoing relationship with the people of Atauro Island, East Timor, and building connection with the local village school.
This has been a life-changing experience for the students who have taken part.
“Our daughter has come home ‘knowing’ less and understanding more. Her eyes are open, her mind is open, her heart is open. It has been an amazing opportunity and I am so proud of her and grateful to you both (Ben and Clare). With the support and encouragement of dedicated professionals like yourselves, our young people have had an experience that goes above and beyond any other kind of post-school celebration. Thanks again.”
(Email from an Emmanuel parent)
I can’t wait to get back to Timor-Leste in 2020 to see the progress at Boneca de Ataúro. If you’re up for another dose of good news, read my full story on these inspiring women here. It’s a tale of resilience, dignity and hope.