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Having just recently returned Karuna Darvesh shares with us her story of volunteering and learning during her trip to Palm Islands, also known as Bwcolgman. We’re all so proud of Karuna for having given up her time to learn more about the Indigenous Community and by helping out where she could with the community as well! 

We want to personally thank you Karuna Darvesh for taking your time to write up your experiences from your Palm Island’s trip and for sharing it with us all to read and learn more about Australia’s Indigenous Community.

A Trip To Bwcolgman

The Walama Muru Program is a student-run volunteer program at the University of New South Wales. The term “Walama Muru”, means “a return of road or path”. Each year, the students in the program visit an Indigenous community in Australia in a remote region to undertake a community development project and to learn more about the community and experience a different culture.

This year, I was selected to participate in the Walama Muru program. Myself, along with 15 other students and our student co-ordinators, visited Palm Island – also known as Bwcolgman (the Aboriginal name) for a week. It is a beautiful, remote Island near Townsville with a small Indigenous community.

Upon arriving at Palm Island, we were welcomed warmly by the locals who were very friendly. There were not many services in the area compared to urban regions, which made me realise the importance of them. The main retail store was located on one end of the Island and phone reception was only available in some parts of the Island. The Medical Centre had healthcare professionals visit from Townsville frequently and thus healthcare was not always readily available. This experience really taught me to appreciate the services which are easily accessible and taken for granted.

The main community development project we undertook during the week involved repainting the Palm Island Post Office. We learned proper painting skills and there was plenty of teamwork and coordination required for it to be a success. Although the weather was very hot, this was a very exciting and rewarding project as we had the opportunity of interacting with some of the locals throughout.

During our stay at Palm Island, we also learned more about the history of the Island. We also learned about the many different Indigenous communities in Australia. A common misconception is that Indigenous people all have the same language but in fact, there are several different languages, each a representation of the different Indigenous communities in Australia.

One of the most valuable things we took in from the trip was listening to the current and past experiences of some of the Aboriginal elders. It was very touching to hear their personal stories about the Stolen Generation and how the lack of contact with their parents during their childhood has deeply affected them.

In order to have a great trip, each volunteer was required to reach their fundraising total throughout the year to effectively reach our collective total. Stepping Stones Education has made a very generous donation to sponsor me for this trip. I am very thankful to Martin and Thomas for their help and support, as this has helped me have a rewarding experience which I will cherish for a lifetime.

By Karuna Darvesh 

Photos from Karuna’s Trip

 


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