Ferdy’s. A drug and alcohol rehabilitation center named after the founder. It is a quiet, simple place located directly on the beach front. If you go there at the right time the tide laps at the fence line. You can take your shoes off and step right into the cool ocean water. A perfect place for a rehab unit.
Every Tuesday we go there to give health education. As usual in any of our education sessions, we present something in a simple easy to understand manner. We start with a presentation and finish with something to eat. It is so true that food brings people together. You can see the people relaxing and it creates opportunities to discuss other topics.
When we arrive we set all our equipment up and hope we haven’t forgotten anything!
Then we start. Start time can be anywhere from 11:30 until 12:15….depending on coconut time. Coconut time = when the locals feel like turning up. This makes for interesting days but is just a normal part of the culture here (It would be so weird going back to Melbourne!)
With our presentations we have begun by focusing on the 8 laws of health. This is made up of 8 important laws that govern our health (more about that here). We really love doing these presentations, it’s a time where we share and the people have the opportunity to respond and ask any questions. The desire for knowledge here is so great! As is said in the old proverb, “people perish for the lack of knowledge.” So many times has it been said recently, “we didn’t know that!” and “why has no one ever told us?”
Presentation time is usually around one hour and then we show them a simple dish that they can make. Tasty food is good food is our motto. Hopefully no cardboard food here! One thing we always make clear is that our desire is not for them to suddenly change and become plant based or vegan, but to have knowledge. To have alternatives that they can implement into their diet, to know that they can change, to know that they are important and have great value.
As it is said;
“To have knowledge is to have power.”
Yesterday was so much fun! One of the things we are doing while on Palm is really getting to know the local children. A local teacher at the Bwgcolman Community School has offered for us to take a class for 1.5hrs per week. I (Anna) have been doing this for a number of weeks now and am loving it!
It is so much fun. Just thinking about it makes me smile and excited for the next week. The children in the class are eager to learn and so receptive. The class runs along these lines…
I usually arrive around 15-20 minutes early to set up and get things organised. During the week I have prepared a craft and a snack that we will make together. Something that we are really focusing on is helping the children to think of someone who may need encouragement (or mum/dad/friend).
When I walk into the school it is usually lunchtime. “Hi Miss Noodles!” or “Hi Miss Anna” is what is generally called out when the kids see me and come crowding around. All sorts of things are said, one on top of the other until it is hard to follow; “Miss Noodles I saw you with that pretty foal!” or “Miss what are we making today?”. All this while the smaller children, (who I am yet to meet) stand by with gorgeous smiles on their faces.
After making it into the classroom and setting up, the children bounce in and we begin.
I will generally tell them what we are going to do and then get going. This week we made biscuits. Easy cheap recipes that the children can do themselves. I generally try to stick to four ingredients…
We then go through the ingredients; what they are, where they come from, and a simple health fact about them. Sometimes we play hangman when they don’t know what something is called. Then we begin to cook.
This week we split into two groups. The ingredients mostly made it into the two bowls, in generally the correct quantities (the recipes are very forgiving, no souffle here!). Then we began mixing. Halfway through, the spoon became fingers and the children finished by rolling the biscuits into balls. I was afraid that we perhaps wouldn’t end up with any biscuits but we did, 73 of them.
By the end of the session the children were able to put their biscuits into the homemade paper bags that we did for art time and take them home with them.
I am looking forward to next week!
This picture is of our beach kitchen and some of our beaches produce. We have a rock for opening the coconuts, a shell for scooping our coconut flesh, and a coconut husk as our drinking cup. Each day that we go for our evening swimming exercise we see dozens of trees, and as occasion offers, we collect those that have fallen to the ground.
Almost every day you see a new pile of coconut husks on the beach or grassed areas. When there is nothing else to do the children here will gather a pile of coconuts and crack them open. The will scrape out the flesh and have a delicious feast! Any leftover you will see the local stray dogs enjoying.
The best example of coconut cracking that we have seen was a young boy standing over the top of a coconut with a HUGE stone in his hands. He was throwing this as hard as he could at the coconut on the ground. Certainly a unique way of opening coconuts!
Coconuts are such an amazing fruit with so many health benefits and uses. It is botanically classified as a drupe. A drupe is a fruit which has an outer fleshy part which surrounds a hardened shell that houses the seed inside. Technically a coconut is a dry fibrous drupe.
I have included a few of the health benefits in a short list below;
- Antimicrobial, antifungal and antiviral – The fatty acids contained in it kill disease causing bacteria
- Because it is easy to digest and absorb it helps treat malnutrition
- Assists in maintaining health in diabetic patients as it slows the release of sugar into the bloodstream
- Is a great preventative for brain disorders such as Alzheimers
- The water is very similar to plasma – It has been used directly from the coconut in emergencies as IV fluids during war time.
- The husk of the coconut is used to make Activated Coconut Charcoal Powder. A powerful tool that can help with a multitude of health problems from snake bites to gastro.
Happy coconut hunting!
An old prison and a retired caravan. Two of the interesting places that we have slept in the last 3 months. Other places have included a beach house, a converted railway carriage and a manse. We haven’t had to sleep by the roadside yet!
The Prison and the caravan happen to be our home for the time being. And I must say I am very good at unlocking locks.
Initially we were going to stay in the prison but we have a rather noisy neighbor which makes it slightly impossible. Our noisy neighbor happens to be a four engine diesel power plant running 24/7! (Put a truck next to your front door and this is what it sounds like.) So at the moment we are working from the old prison; which has a big kitchen, 3 toilets (that mostly work), a shower, and occasionally some pet horses and dogs.
Our floor contains what I consider the most history of the place. It has the names of many of the inmates etched into the floor with the amount of time they were to serve. The doors and bars on the windows are the originals and you could still lock people in if you felt like it (we tend not to do this as we are in the business of freeing people!). From the entrance to the end wall, the windows stretch from the floor almost entirely to the ceiling with the bars still covering them. In two of the cells steel rimmed toilets have been replaced with normal toilets and the inside has been freshly painted.
By bedtime we gladly escape the noise to retreat to our retired caravan.
Palm Island. A tropical paradise off the North Queensland coast. A place with a painful history, a place with a beautiful people.
When we found that we were heading to Palm Island we scoured the internet for as much information as possible. Surprisingly there was not a lot to sample from. Some local websites, a few news articles and only a few generic pictures. We came across a fair amount of negativity when speaking to people and noticed that most people only know about it from the riots and death of an Aboriginal man in 2004.
“It’s not a safe place” was a common phrase repeated to us along with numerous stories about why. When we questioned people closely about whether they have visited most times the answer was a resounding “No!”.
From the experience that we have had so far it has been quite the opposite. People have been more than kind; they have been open and friendly and very different to any other place we have lived. We are now getting used to waving at any and everyone we drive by. We are learning that “having a yarn” is more important than getting somewhere on time, and although things don’t happen in quite the Melbourne manner or timing, the difference in culture here is a refreshing.
So, why are we here? most people would be aware that Aboriginal people have a lower life expectancy to those in predominantly white areas of Australia. Why is this? It really doesn’t have a short answer.