Recently Milford Lodge hosted a two day Early Childhood Conference called Village Ways. We had 90 people in total, including the amazing speakers Teacher Tom, Niki Buchan & Prue Walsh. We also included a visit to the nearby Ration Shed (Aboriginal History) museum.
It was only approximately a fortnight prior, that I realised I had left myself a 15 minute time slot on both the Saturday and the Sunday morning for the welcome. Saturday's 15 minutes was chewed up very quickly with the welcome, housekeeping and of course the order of events and many thank you messages for all of our inaugural guests. But Sunday.... what to talk about?
The last ‘speech’ I made was in high school when we had to speak for a minimum of 3 minutes on a topic of our choice. Not being interested in the assignment, I prepared the night before what I thought was 3 minutes. When the teacher pressed the dreaded stop watch at the end on about 53 seconds I knew I should have written a couple more sentences. Hopefully I would be able to come up with something that went for more than 53 seconds for my first public speaking experience in almost 20 years. I realised that I really needed to stay with our title of Village Ways and really think about why we were all gathered there for the weekend.
A recent incident involving a family member of Milford Lodge helped me to consider a message that we do not often hear on the professional development circuit, however it is a quite important one.
This is what I came up with:
(with special thanks to Angela Ryan, author of blog "A Different Kind of Perfect".
This is my village. Buderim Village. This is where I grew up.
Well, it wasn’t quite like this when I grew up in the 80s and 90s.
There were only around 4000 people living in Buderim back in 1981 when my parents bought Milford Lodge, and there were cow paddocks down the road. My brother was amongst the last group of children to start their first formal year of schooling in bare feet, and for years my mother took the afternoon group to Buderim Mountain Preschool on the Milford Lodge ponies, and returned with the morning group on the same ponies.
We knew all of the children in the nearby houses and were free to walk to each other’s houses to play.
The kids next door to us had a brand new Sega Master System, which we didn’t have – so loved going there to play video games. We on the other hand, had all of the farm experiences and they loved coming over, especially when there were new baby goslings, ducklings or chicks.
The other parents would be there if anything happened, but also to chip us if we were doing something wrong.
I got my first job opportunity at about the age of 12 at the local fruit shop, where I already knew the owners as my family had been buying their fruit and vegetables there for years prior. From them I learnt many things. They were fantastic employers and so even from that young age, I had a lot of respect for them and I worked hard for them.
We were effectively… raised in a village.
This is Lola.
She is part of our family and she is also very well loved within her village and neighbouring villages. Even people who do not usually have a love for animals love Lola.
She is also an excellent running companion.
We were out running one morning and she was really slow and panting a lot. We got about a mile away from home and she just sat down and wouldn’t get up again. I then realised she had been pretty tired two nights earlier when we ran and had that little bell ‘ding’ moment in my head.
I thought, she’s got a tick. I searched all over her and finally found it right near her collar. A huge tick had been living on her for a good few days, maybe more. I knew I couldn’t let her run any more but I couldn’t leave her behind, as she would probably try to follow me. And I am not one of these new age people that run with devices, so I couldn’t phone my husband. So I picked her up and started to jog home. Now, Lola is small for a boxer, but she is still a boxer which is a medium sized dog. She wasn’t light. Eventually I couldn’t run anymore and so slowed to a walk. I had to stop and put her down at one point. During this time I reckon about a dozen cars went past me.
A woman carrying a medium sized dog down the road, and I am sure that my face must have shown a wonderful blend of stress, upset, pain…
Not one car stopped.
Not one person thought that just maybe I might need some assistance. Not their problem.
I was so completely shocked. I still am actually.
Thankfully after a few days at the local vet, Lola was fine again. We still go running, but she gets tired now, being almost 8.
Here’s a long time Buderim resident. Took many a young apprentice under his wing as a builder and taught plenty of people how to row effectively. Even at 65, he had big A grade surf boat rowers shaking in their boots when he offered his handshake, which apparently made them feel like little school girls. This guy was very well respected in the villages he lived in over the years.
A strong presence, and one of those old school men that can just do anything and probably happily survive in a cave.
He had a stroke a 65, and never was the same again. Not only did it affect his left hand side, it also took parts of his brain. But he soldiered on, as was the only way he knew how.
A few years after the stroke, he had managed to gain some independence back again, even if only small. His wife would get his little bag ready with money for a coffee and a paper and wave him off as he walked down the driveway and into Buderim - a good few kilometres.
He was really proud of this little bit of independence he had managed to fight for. He was proud of the fact that he could buy his own coffee, and buy his own paper. And whilst it was nowhere near his capabilities prior to the stroke – it was really important to him.
He worked up a sweat one day and so removed his jacket when he got there. After his coffee and paper he started to feel cold again and so went to put his jacket back on.
But his arm got stuck. He struggled for around twenty minutes. In the middle of Buderim.
At peak coffee time. Not one person stopped to ask if he needed help. Not one.
Not their problem.
I was shocked. I still am.
I think he lost a little bit of independence and meaning again on that day.
Fortunately he had many people who gave him plenty of good memories before he passed. This is my dad on his 70th birthday when a bunch of his old mates took him for a row at Mooloolaba.
Some ‘old school’ villagers.
As mentioned earlier, I sought some assistance help from one of my families for our final villager. She said she was happy for me to cut, paste, edit into my own – but I love her blog and her writing as it is, so I read her words as they were written.
This is Mick, by the way.
It takes a village is a proverb that means in order to be a fully capable adult and well-rounded person you must experience life beyond your family unit and learn from all those who come your way in life.
Can an entire community have a major part in raising a child?
I believe so!
We are a happy family of four, Michael, Angela, Jett and Jaeda. This belief often comes into play with our little family as we have a few challenges in life. My daughter Jaeda has a brain injury secondary to Meningitis. She has a cognitive and learning disability from such injury leaving her with limited speech and knowledge of our world. We constantly hope for a community of understanding so our darling girl and family can face challenges a little easier. I have definitely found this being a part of a wonderful, caring child care centre. The staff and parents have come together to educate themselves and their children in understanding Jaeda’s differences. By the children watching acceptance and understanding, helps them grow into more open minded people, accepting all children and people with any difference they might hold. I have been so overwhelmed by the love surrounding my little girl.
Though I’m afraid to say I was overly disappointed with a community this past month.
Very surprised in fact that what I thought was second nature to many other people, is simply not.
My husband Michael was in a serious car accident 2 weeks ago now, an accident he was very blessed to have walked away from. A bus turned in front of him and hit him head on. The impact caused the air bags to go off possibly saving my husband’s life. His head still hit the windscreen and his hips and knees were buckled under the dash. The total front end of his Ute was compressed and Michael was stuck in the car.
So what would you do if you drove up to that?
Well I believe you stop, stop everything, forget your day and how you may be late and help!!
No one stopped to help him out of the car, he had to ram the door open 20 times to free himself- still no one stopped!
In the meantime the bus driver remained on the bus along with some shocked passengers, none I believe were majorly hurt.
Finally Michael stumbled from the car to ask a motorist who had stopped could he use his phone.
The guy got back in his car, told Michael he had rang the police and ambulance and said no to borrowing the phone.
Mick said he felt like a monster asking for something and that the blood on his face has deterred the man from lending his phone. That guy drove off.
All he needed was some comfort by this stage as you can imagine his shock.
Finally a man came to Mick and let him call me, that’s all Michael wanted, just to let me know. Just some comfort. He was frightened and badly injured and he wanted his wife.
To that wonderful man out there who made sure he was ok, Thank you, I think everyone should act in this way.
The ambulance arrived, police, Fire Brigade and me.
Michael was taken to hospital and Thank god is all ok.
I feel sad that people passed my beautiful husband that morning.
As scary as he would have looked with a smashed up face and delirious with shock, you should have stopped.
Your children will see that you didn’t stop, the children will see that others didn’t stop.
The kids in the cars, the children on the bus that day all witnessed an accident and then watched what and how we all reacted.
Let’s always help each other so our kids will see that that this should be a part of life and when they are older they will never think twice about stopping to help anyone.
In saying that I would also like to thank the support that come from the wonderful ones.
Obviously these 3 characters that I have introduced are in my immediate community.
But it highlights just how far we have sadly moved away from ‘village’ or real community life. And I know that our society has changed. We longer allow our children to wander between houses. And as Peter Gray says, even if you do, they are the only child out and so soon return home. I know that you no longer turn up at someone’s house unannounced.
But I feel that these have had a very detrimental effect on the old neighbourhood or village.
If I have these 3 stories from the past few years, then I wonder how many similar stories would come from this room alone.
How do so many people just simply walk past a fellow citizen who is so obviously in need of assistance, and do absolutely nothing? There seems to be a culture of ‘passing the buck’.
It’s not my problem. Surely the next person to come along will do something.
Teach your children empathy.
But real empathy with action.
Please don’t walk past.