April 27, 2005


Tuesday at Ngukurr and the relevant adjective is 'reluctant'.

I just didn't really want to be here. I had such a lovely and relaxed weekend in Katherine and I didn't want the stresses of work to come back so soon. And yes, much of Tuesday was spent dealing with humbug: trips to the shop, trips to the office, giving lifts to people, letting people use the phone. I somehow managed to get some time to myself to have a bit of lunch and then (after another couple of interruptions) even had a quick nap. I started to feel better after that.

What was interesting was that in the face of my distinct lack of motivation, we still got stuff done. I started working with someone new on Ritharrngu and that was good. We sorted out this week's language class and without too much fuss.

Today was a better day. I was a bit more enthusiastic and content about being here. Thankfully, I was also much more relaxed than last wednesday. (Wednesday's represent a peak in my stress levels because it's the day of language classes at Ngukurr school).

I thought we would have four out of five language classes going today, but we ended up with only two: Ngandi and Marra. Oh well. They still went pretty well. Actually, now that I think about it, our language program is going to start looking rubbish if we can't manage to get most of the language classes happening. Damn.

I was thinking again today about community health and how it affects the language program (and in turn, language maintenance and revitalisation activities in general). Out of all the people who worked on the language program today, there was a 50-year old man who needs glasses, has a bad heart and can't really do much physical activity, an older lady (about 55?) who is just getting over a bad case of pneumonia, has hearing difficulties, has diabetes and a bad heart, two 75-year-old women, one who is healthy and the other who doesn't get around very well and a 60-year old man who doesn't get around much either. And out of the other language workers, there's a lady who needs glasses badly, a man who's heart isn't great, an overweight man with terrible feet and ankles (maybe gout?) and someone else who seems healthy. And then there's those that could be doing language work if they were healthier but they can't: the lady with terrible ankles who just can't get around, the woman whose husband died too young from a heart attack last year and she's still getting over it and a deaf and frail old lady who speaks a lot of languages. Pretty unfortunate that the fate of language maintenance activities is so affected by the health of people here. Or maybe it's also that language work suits those who aren't fit enough to do something more physical... either way, it makes me worried and sad to see the general health levels here, specially compared to cityfolk.

Well, I'm off to Hodgson Downs again tomorrow. We've got a bush trip in the afternoon and a language lesson on friday.

9 weeks til i go to melbourne!


Catalin said...

Regardless of the effect on language work, it's sad that there is such ill health amongst relatively young elders (50 and 60 y.o.). There's not much you can do about bad hearts, but surely there's some way to get glasses for people who need them.

I don't know how the Australian health care system works, but I can't imagine that eye glasses for old people are not part of it. It might need someone from the clinic to arrange a visit from an optometrist?

Anonymous said...

yeah that's true about the health. i don't think optometry is covered by public health. it is the same with dentists and boy are they expensive. i think they only get to communities once a year, so you just have to put up with tooth aches unfortunately.