From little things

“If you invest in the early years, it changes people’s whole life”

That’s what local school teacher Sarah Mortimer said when asked about the importance of supporting young Aboriginal children in the community of Punmu.

Punmu is one of Australia’s most remote communities. Most of its residents are Indigenous Martu, a cultural group with an unbroken connection with the East Pilbara desert going back thousands of years.

Thanks to the support of StarKids through donations from Jetstar customers, World Vision is working with the Punmu community to make big changes in the lives of Martu children through a locally run playgroup. Before, there was no playgroup in operation in Punmu, which led to many children entering school developmentally behind their peers in other parts of Australia.

Local mother and playgroup facilitator Marissa said without the playgroup her daughter Anya wouldn’t have been as ready for school.

“When the teacher asks me, ‘Oh, she can do the work quick,’ and I said, ‘You know why, because [of] taking her to playgroup, so she’s been learning from playgroup quick.’”

At the playgroup kids learn in both English and Martu Wangka, their first language. They’re taught to count, recognise letters and develop a daily routine.

World Vision Project Manager Yvonne Mkandara said the success of the playgroup is attributed to the community’s passion and support for the project.

“Parents, carers, the whole of the community said, ‘We want our children to be strong both ways. We want them to learn the mainstream way and we also want them to be really strong in our own way, in our cultural way.”


Caption: Anya at Punmu playgroup.