It’s okay… no real tsunamis here… but this metaphor well describes my week. First some background… for the last six weeks Numbulwar has been very empty of non-indigenous people. All the teachers leave for school holidays. The doctors and medical specialists stop flying into town. Many of the government staff and legal organisations that assist Numbulwar stop visiting over the Christmas break. The builders who are fixing up and building houses here in town all flew out to enjoy a rest. Everything seems to stop. So for this time we saw Ruth regularly as we developed the tradition of dinner followed by an episode of Air Crash Investigations on a Friday evening (Ruth is a CMS missionary who shares a house with our other MAF pilot Rachel) and we also spent time with one other family.
To be honest I didn’t mind the solitude. Many of these non-indigenous people I don’t know well as they have jobs that bring them to town and which keep them very busy, but I do know many of the staff at school and the council buildings. During this time I enjoyed the chance to get to know Ruth better and Jason loved having someone to analyse plane crashes with.
But now that school is back in session, it seems as though a wave of white has hit Numbulwar this week. On Monday morning two MAF planes transported delivered people and freight to Numbulwar from Groote Eylandt. The Bishop of the Anglican church in the Northern Territory was one of the passengers. We met him briefly on Tuesday as he met with the local indigenous pastor to encourage him. Also on the plane was a lady who works with Anglicare NT helping families in crisis and a builder who was going to do some maintainence at the school.
On another MAF plane from Nhulunbuy, came Doug and Yvonne Miles (Doug is MAF Arnhem Land’s Program Manager. He was also the pilot.), Jenny and Otto Wichert (new staff to MAF. They will be working as the homeschool support person and maintainence staff) and Charley Stockley (MAF’s main maintainence man!) They all came down for lunch… and to evaluate the state of our bathroom for the replacement shower, vanity and toilet that are going to be installed sometime soon. It was lovely to have a house full of guests. Just as they headed home, with big black clouds looming in the sky, the lady who works with Anglicare called in to introduce herself and see how she could help me with getting the criminal history checks and working with children cards processed for all of our playgroup staff.
On Tuesday I saw several lawyers gathered in the undercover area. This is the place where people sit to pass time, but also like a town square, the place where information is given out. Next week Numbulwar will have its court day, so the lawyers come in for a day in the previous week to help people prepare if they need to go to court.
On Wednesday at playgroup we had a visit from a counselling service and a physio who were both in town and who wanted to make themselves known to playgroup staff and families.
On Thursday, the Purdey family came to visit for the day. We studied at ACMA and BCV together and Sam and their son Jimmy were born a week apart. Ian is working with MAF as a contract pilot for a short time and he flew the closed charter down from Nhulunbuy. Later in the day, Jason headed off for Katherine (4 hour round trip) with two police officers and a prisoner who needed to be transported.
What a busy week! So many people come and go from Numbulwar. I am impressed that our government and other agencies see the importance of access to health care, parenting help, counselling services, legal assistance and physical help for the indigenous people who live in such remote places. I am also so thankful that MAF has admin and managers who can help us out and listen to our joys and struggles here in Numbulwar.