Students turn Indigenous experience into charitable project
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'A small flame was lit within me'

Students turn Indigenous experience into charitable project

All funds raised from the Tikkun Giving Circle will go to a project supporting First Nations People.

The TGC gathering at Gunawirra House in Rozelle last month.
The TGC gathering at Gunawirra House in Rozelle last month.

IN May, 20 Emanuel year 6 students and their parents visited the Northern Territory community of Jilkminggan on a nine-day program to experience elements of Aboriginal life and culture and meet with students at the Jilkminggan School.

This transformative experience – connecting with the land, hearing the stories, building relationships with the children at Jilkminggan School and starting to understand the plight of Australia’s Indigenous people –has inspired the students to form the Tikkun Giving Circle (TGC) from which all funds raised will go to a project supporting First Nations People.

TGC is being jointly facilitated by the Australian Jewish Funders (AJF) and two of the parents who attended the trip, Michael Pollak and Ruby Berkovic.

Last month, the students held their first gathering at Gunawirra House in Rozelle.

Pollak said, “It was wonderful to experience a smoking ceremony and the students had the opportunity to learn about the local Indigenous culture and community.”

The students spent time thinking about the Jewish concept of tzedakah. They were asked about the Jewish values that most resonate with them – justice, hope, human dignity, preservation, service, responsibility and loving kindness.

Guided by Jewish wisdom and values, the 20 students together will choose a cause affecting Australia’s Indigenous people to support, both with the funds they collectively raise and by committing some of their time to make meaningful and impactful change.

Over the upcoming summer, they have been challenged to each raise at least $180 (10 x Chai). The funds will be pooled so the students can have a more significant impact in the project they choose to support.

Students will be washing cars, selling handmade jewellery and knitwear, walking dogs and holding bake sales to raise their funds. TGC is seeking a donor to match the funds raised dollar for dollar so that in total there will be almost $10,000 to support their chosen initiative.

Pollak, who was involved in the creation of TGC, said “a small flame was lit within me” during the NT trip.

“I returned home feeling that unless I took a positive step now to stay connected with that experience, in a few months’ time it would be a distant, beautiful memory,” he said.

Conscious that his daughter Talia and the other students would soon revert their attention back to everyday life, he pondered how to keep the experience alive, “to keep the flame burning”.

Wanting to use the memory of the trip to try and make “a small, tangible difference” to Australia’s Aboriginal community, he said he was also keen for his daughter and her friends to learn “that when we see an injustice, we can personally do things to make a difference”.

“We quickly realised that the other 19 Emanuel children felt the same, and TGC was born,” he said.

Student Aaron Pal, who visited the NT with the group, said, “I learned that Aboriginal communities don’t have anywhere near as much food, school resources and daily supplies compared to ourselves. TGC has given me a chance to give back and help these communities.”

Student Remi Moses said, “I came home wondering how we can do more to stay connected to and assist communities that could use a hand.

“With the TGC, I feel that I’ve been given an opportunity to contribute in a small but hopefully significant way.

“I’m working on a cookbook as my TGC fundraising initiative, with all funds going to an Indigenous cause that we want to get behind.”

Once the inaugural TGC has been completed, the facilitators intend to see if it can scale into a broader initiative, spanning various social justice issues across various schools.

More info/support TGC: Lisa Pillemer giving@ajf.org.au, Michael Pollak michael@pollakconsulting.com.au

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