The SSIO Australia was been invited to participate in a community event in Murwillumbah NSW called the Kinship Festival. The objective of the festival was to connect, share and participate in the wisdom and practice of healthy families, strong values and vibrant community culture.
The event was held on Saturday, 19 May. This annual Families Week gathering is designed and directed by members of the Indigenous community in collaboration with service providers to benefit all families with a sense of connection and belonging.
The elements of the festival are defined as:
Kinship – community and the threads that unite us all
Culture – meaning the practices and world-views that have kept our people and country whole and sustained beyond time
Connections – how Culture and Kinship in our present-day community can be and is connected
A brief history on how this came about:
Murwillumbah is a regional town with low socio-economy, high unemployment rates and is plagued with a variety of domestic issues. Around a third of the families have meagre incomes and struggle to make ends meet. This means they are often in dire need of basic food and household supplies.
During the 2016 Service/SSE Retreat we packed food hampers for 100 families and distributed this through the Murwillumbah Community Centre (MCC). Since then, with Sathya Sai Baba’s grace and guidance and generous voluntary contributions from SSIO Australia members, we were able to kick off an ongoing service project partnering with MCC and the Sathya Sai School providing food hampers and groceries for about 20 families every month.
During the aftermath of Cyclone Debbie in April last year, Murwillumbah was flooded and families were evacuated from their homes to makeshift and temporary shelters. More than anything else, they were in need of necessities such as milk, bread, water, instant noodles etc. We were able to supply this aid to over 200 families during this time. Subsequently, when the water level receded, and families went back to their homes, we provided cleaning supplies to help them clean their homes.
Fast forward to now:
We are now in our second year of providing monthly food hampers to families in Murwillumbah. This has established a strong relationship with the Murwillumbah community, and as a result, SSIO Australia was been invited to participate in their local Kinship Festival. This is a significant milestone achievement for SSIO Australia in its focus on Community Engagement.
Individuals and families depend on the assistance we are providing, whatever it may be. As with any service initiative, it is important to maintain continuity and sustainability. This is achieved not only through financial contribution, but also through collaboration.
The service initiative in Murwillumbah has been successful through the collaboration of the Service Wing, Young Adults Programme, Sathya Sai School and now the Ladies Programme. The Service Wing places the orders for the monthly food hampers. Items are put together in bags by the Young Adults. Food hampers are then delivered to the Murwillumbah Community Centre through the Sathya Sai School. For the Kinship Festival, sweets and treats were prepared to represent the 5 Human Values and the recipes incorporated ingredients of Australian bush foods such as lemon myrtle, kakadu plum, macadamia and bush spices, which resonated with the local Aboriginal culture. The recipes were shared with members of the Ladies Programme, giving them an opportunity to be a part of this festival.
Overall, this is an SSIO Australia Community Engagement initiative, supporting the Murwillumbah community and strengthening the relationship and connection of the Sathya Sai School in the community, an opportunity by Sathya Sai Baba to demonstrate and put into practise Education in Human Values.