What a special day to meet and speak with the children of Botongon. I thank my dear friend Mel Irvine, for taking the magic of Magic Fish Dreaming and sharing it with the children.
Mel tried to make it seem as much as possible as if I was there, and moved the camera a few times so I could see the whole gathering and setting as well as introducing me to people. The local women who work with Mel are very impressive in their care for the children too.
It was amazing and quite overwhelming to think of some children arriving early and waiting for up to two hours outside the gate to run up the stairs to go the world literacy day event.
After welcome songs, and prayers, and me also thanking all of our ancestors I spoke.
We had some common ground and I spoke with them about Australia’s typhoon – Yasi and my family’s experience of it. It was something that brought some memories back for all of us in two parts of the world where massive cyclones have occurred.
I loved hearing the children sing in a number of languages and was very impressed that one young man recited ‘Gecko’s dance.’
I read ‘Rain Song’ and encouraged the gathering to tell that rain to go away. For a moment it was as if we were all yelling out at the typhoons/cyclones we have been through.
But it was lovely that the meeting was so positive, joyful and focused on education. Mel showed me the library! And lots of children were reading. I was sad to hear they had lost their school after the typhoon, but they did soon return to school in tents!
Soon everyone was smiling again through memory tears. There is something about sharing the experience of a natural disaster that can’t be explained in words.
You can watch most of what unfolded in the replay of the livestream.
The children introduced themselves one by one, and really enjoyed going up to the microphone.
A big thank you also to Helene the illustrator of Magic Fish Dreaming, who was thanked at the meeting as well. Her illustrations have played such an important role in attracting people into the words of Magic Fish Dreaming.
It has been wonderful to see how people everywhere and all ages can relate through the power of poetry and memory.
The major highlight of this skype was to see so many smiling faces listening to poetry to someone all the way in Australia, and responding to the words which such warmth, emotion and enthusiasm. A writer can ask for nothing more.
You can read more about this event and Mel’s work in the Philippines at her blog.
If you feel inspired maybe you can give some support to these dear children.
Images Courtesy Mel Irvine – showing what was happening on the other end of the skype session and in the lead up to the day.