Dear Inner Circle,

Our hall filled with mostly young Aboriginal people this week. We’re supporting the formation of an Aboriginal women’s football team. Once a year the biggest gathering of Aboriginal people in the State happens at an annual rugby knockout competition. For the past couple of years, a private sponsor has funded a Wayside Aboriginal men’s team for the competition. Other donors have stepped forward to sponsor the men’s team again this year, but our Aboriginal Project Manager, Mon, is passionate about forming a women’s team. To see our hall filled with young Aboriginal women, excited to play football and proud to be playing as a community, was enough to melt anyone’s heart. It looks like I’ll be on the sidelines this weekend, understanding nothing about the game but cheering for this fabulous act of community making.

Thirty years ago a woman and nine kids landed on my doorstep. They had all been living in a small caravan with an annex. The Mum was the roughest of diamonds. Hygiene in such circumstances was difficult and although everyone appeared to be fed and clothed, the diet was determined entirely by price and no one’s clothing was either fashionable nor new. Yet, everyone got fed and everyone got loved. I don’t doubt for a second that if Government authorities had become involved, the children would have been separated from their mother. We found housing for the family in due course. It wasn’t ideal and soon to all these kids was added a bunch of animals. There were so many issues that were less than ideal but I recognised goodness and love. As the clan grew I baptised children, and performed weddings. Yesterday, twenty-five years on, there was a reunion here at Wayside. A daughter that I married now has nine children of her own and five grandchildren. Not unlike her Mum, this woman is amazing. Twenty-five years later, the marriage is strong and there is an earthy wisdom that comes from pure struggle. The husband and wife have each worked two jobs for years, providing for their children. They’ve bought an acre of land and built a house large enough to house their old Mum, now suffering with dementia. What a joy for me to have supported this family and now to see this next generation, struggling in many ways but having done well. A relatively young woman has hands that show how hard she has worked all her life. We gas bagged and caught up on family news and if I could, I’d have listened all day, absorbing the beauty of a fighter, a worker, a mother and grandmother, a guru, a servant who will make any sacrifice and pay any price to nurture her family.

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