Babbarra Women’s Centre workers have driven their truck around remote West Arnhem homelands. (Supplied: Ingrid Johanson)
A Christmas drive held by an op shop deep in the Northern Territory bush has received an unprecedented truckload of love from around the globe.
- The women’s centre in Maningrida trucks gifts out to remote homelands across Arnhem Land
- Gifts from across the globe are given to kids and families who often don’t have access to basic supplies
- An op shop fundraiser showcases the generosity of social media users keen to get involved
Far beyond the usual December donations of hand-me-down clothes and regifted trinkets, Babbarra Women’s Centre has been the beneficiary of gifts from far-flung nations like Canada and New Caledonia.
The generous bounty was then trucked out and delivered to Indigenous children and families on remote outstations around West Arnhem Land.
Babbarra manager Ingrid Johanson said the centre had been amazed to receive so many donations.
“The presents came from the generous donations of individuals and groups across Australia, and even the world, who heard about the op shop fundraising online,” Ms Johanson said.
“It shows the power of using social media and the good will across the world for our work.”
Bush Christmas truck fires up
The Babbarra Women’s Centre truck, covered in the design of artist Deborah Wurrkidj’s Manwak (Mumeka Booms), was even further embellished with tinsel to become the Bush Christmas truck.
Staff and artists from the women’s centre, part of the Bawinanga Aboriginal Corporation, then visited various homelands with the truck filled with gifts.
The homelands visited included Anka-badbirri, Gochan Jiny-Jirra, Buluhkaduru, Bolkdjam, Nangak and Ji-Bena, all in the West Arnhem Land region.
Co-manager and Burarra woman Jessica Phillips said having spent much of her life living on her family homeland Ji-Bena, she understood the struggles of living so remote.
“Everything is hard to access and most people can only ever afford basic food and fuel,” Ms Phillips said.
“Our people have had too many funerals lately too, which has drained a lot of our money just before Christmas.
“That is why it was so special for us to give gifts out, it really lifts people’s spirits.”
Women’s centre fuels hope
Many people in the Maningrida region still live on their remote outstations, and Bawinanga Aboriginal Corporation services 32 of these.
Babbarra Women’s Centre manager Ingrid Johanson was amazed to receive so many donations. (Supplied: Ingrid Johanson)
A large number of homelands get cut off in the wet season due to flooding, so people must make the choice to either stay out on country with no access to the hub of Maningrida, or move into the town for the wet period.
Ms Johanson said the gifts distributed to the homeland’s kids and families ranged from clothing to toys, books to toiletries, and even few Christmas cakes.
“The parcels all arrived at the Maningrida post office after individuals heard about the donations drive, then were sorted and gift-wrapped in Maningrida,” she said.
Babbarra Women’s Centre has five outstations that have been used for women on homelands to print on textiles, harvest bush foods and weave pandanus.
One of these centres at Buluhkaduru homeland has just been renovated, and in the new year more women will be supported to work out there, Ms Johanson said.