[From E-Zine Issue 11, April 2014]
Hi everyone, my name is Alisha Bourke and I am the National Schools’ Coordinator for Books in Homes Australia.
I love my job at Books in Homes as I have variety of interesting roles, which gives me the opportunity to learn something new everyday.
Some days I’ll be talking to our schools from down in Launceston in Tasmania all the way up to The Kimberley in Western Australia and learning just how vast and different Australia really is.
Some days I’ll be talking to Scholastic and learning all of the hard work that they do to make sure that every student on the Books in Homes Programme receives their books each term.
Some days I’ll be writing this e-zine, which gives me the opportunity to talk to all of our generous sponsors and supporters and learn about the passion that they have to improve their local communities.
But one of my most interesting roles is working with the PACE program at Macquarie University to give uni students an opportunity to work with us on projects all around Australia.
Three of these students – Sarah, Aimee, Andrew – and I recently had to the opportunity to travel up to the Northern Territory to work first hand with Maningrida School, located in east Arnhem Land, around 500km’s from Darwin.
This project was an evaluation on the Books in Homes Programme which includes surveying parents, interviewing teachers, having a chat to the kids, and really learning how the programme works at the school.
Maningrida is a remote Indigenous community made up of a small township and several outstations. There is a beautiful contrast of rich red dirt, lush green flora and the turquoise blue of the ocean – it’s quite a sight to behold! (From a distance though, there are plenty of crocodiles and jellyfish that would make for an interesting swim!)
The school is run by a fantastic group of teachers and staff, the Principal, Miranda Watt leading the charge. Some of the teachers have lived in Maningrida a short while, others have lived in Maningrida since they were children. All of them were equally committed to giving the kids of Maningrida the best possible start in life.
Because Maningrida is so far remote, resources such as books rarely make their way into the town. The only source of quality, self-chosen literature for the kids at Maningrida is through the Books in Homes Programme, thanks to the generous funding of the Charlie Perkins Trust.
We were all blown away at how much these books were appreciated. There were students grinning ear to ear showing us their book choices, over the moon that they can finally read the next book in their favourite series. There were parents who are happy to be able to start building a home library with their children and read with them at home. There were teachers who can see their students barely being able to contain their excitement when the familiar black and orange book bags were brought into class.
It has been an extraordinary experience.
Below is a video of Books in Homes Australia’s partnership with Macquarie University PACE Program for the Maningrida Evaluation Project:
Huge thank you to the PACE program at Macquarie University for all of your support in this and many other projects. Find out more about what PACE could do for your company or not-for-profit here.