Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Fly In Fly Out Life

View from my tiny plane

The 4ft shark I caught within 5 minutes of fishing by the barge

Watching some footy with the year 5's I taught after school

Kids after a very enjoyable and inspiring basketball clinic

Since living in Darwin I have had the opportunity to work in a community on a remote island. I have been getting regular fly in, fly out work. 
While this made finding a home and settling in quite difficult, the experiences I have had have been once in a life time.

It's not everyday you hop onto a 5 seater plane with absolutely no idea what your getting yourself into. I did try and google the island but there is barely any information to be found.

Fortunately I found that the staff I was working with were incredibly friendly and supportive. A group of girls went out of their way to show me around and include me in daily island life and I know consider them good friends.

As for the teaching, you will never find a more entertaining and loveable group of children. The challenges in these classrooms are vastly different to those in the schools I have previously worked at and the teaching content and styles are also very different. It has been the biggest learning experience for me. 
 I have learnt about an Australian culture that most Australians will never experience or understand. I have attended farewell ceremonies with traditional singing and dancing, learnt about Pukanami the long grieving ritual after death and much more.

My feelings towards the island and my experience have all been very positive however there is a darker side.
Health and violence are two major issues on the island. 
Like most remote communities in Australia drugs and alcohol are a serious problem. Fortunately the island has very strict laws even for those who aren't localls which does help manage this.
There are also many issues with violence and abuse within the community. Though neither I or the girls I work with have ever been threatened or felt unsafe. Most of these problems remain within the local community.

At the school they provide clean uniforms for students to change into daily and the kids brush their teeth in the mornings at school. They are provided with breakfast, recess and lunch which is always packed full of fresh fruit and vegetables. 
This is still not enough to rid the children of the infections, scabies and countless other problems.
Health professionals frequently visit the island and run week long clinics for the school to educate the students and encourage them to visit the health clinic.
While I was on one of my trips there was a hearing clinic educating the kids on the importance of good hygiene, healthy eating and taking care of our ears.
Until this point I was unaware that over 80% of the students have a hearing impairment and 1 in 5 students have a severe hearing impairment.

Imagine going to school taught in English which is you second language and having a severe hearing impairment.
 Reflecting on this fact really puts my teaching in perspective.

For anyone as fortunate as I am to be offered fly in fly out remote work, I recommend giving it a try. Whilst I won't be moving there permenantly in the next year or so moving remote and working is something I plan and hope to do in the future. I still feel greatful and blessed to be giving this opportunity to experience life teaching on a remote island.

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