Learning from others - from Palestine to South Australia
14 February 2012
As Palestinians from Lebanon, Iman Masriel and Malak Fakhreddine had never dreamed of visiting Australia, let alone doing it as part of their work. Watch the video that captures their journey of visiting a remote Aboriginal community Ernabella, as part of a month-long professional development fellowship through Australian Palestinian Partnerships and AVI.
Iman Masriel and Malak Fakhreddine, employed by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) in the Near East, help deliver education direct to a refugee population that cannot access most government services or professional employment open to the Lebanese population. In August 2011, they travelled from the Middle East to a remote Aboriginal community, Pukatja (Ernabella) in South Australia, where they stayed for four nights as part of a month long professional development fellowship.
This video captures Malak and Iman's perceptions and thoughts prior to, during, and after their journey to Ernabella. Let us know what you think by emailing email@example.com and read on below for more information about this story.
The purpose of the visit was to consult with Ernabella Anangu School staff and to share knowledge on teaching English as a second language, literacy support and engaging young people and disadvantaged communities in the education process. As well as the professional training and discussions at the school, the fellows had the opportunity to learn much more about Aboriginal Australia, and to share their own stories about Ramadan, Palestinian history and culture. As Ernabella Anangu School Principal, Lisa Salomon noted, there were important similarities between teaching in Ernabella and Beirut. “Children who are not thriving are not easily educated, we are each trying desperately to make a difference and education is a pathway to power and a sense of future.”
Ernabella has been a permanent settlement since 1937 in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands (APY Lands) in northwest South Australia and is home of more than 600 Anangu. Their culture and language is well preserved and the town is famous for having the oldest arts centre in Australia. The township includes a TAFE campus, a health clinic and an aged care clinic, each employing Agangu assistant staff, and at the heart of the community is the vibrant and successful Ernabella Anangu School, providing not only education but pastoral support, hope, and a safe space for kids to be kids.
Australian Palestinian Partnerships (APP) is currently undertaking an evaluation of the whole fellowship program, in the hope that the lessons learnt can inform future fellowships and initiatives. APP hopes to second a Department of Education and Children's Services (DECS) staff member to Beirut for three months to support new initiatives through ongoing mentoring and training. In addition, AVI will continue to work with United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNWRA) to indentify areas where volunteers can contribute their technical expertise to ensure that Palestinian refugees in Lebanon have access to a strong, inclusive and dynamic education system through UNRWA.
The opportunity to visit Ernabella was initially driven by Australian Volunteers International (AVI) volunteer Richard Steele, an English Language Advisor with (UNRWA) and was made possible by several organisations working together including APP for Health and Education, AVI, UNRWA - Lebanon, the Ernabella Anangu School and the (DECS) in South Australia.