We touched down in Pormpuraaw in the stifling heat, sun shining and sweat dripping from our foreheads, our hearts excited as to what was to come next. Our partner Richard from Pormpur Paanthu Aboriginal Corporation (PPAC) came to pick us up. He is like a big teddy bear! Richard and his wife Leanne are looking after us, cooking dinner for us every night and letting us stay with them in their air-conditioned house – THANK YOU SO MUCH!!
As expected, there are no high rise buildings, just one story houses and a small town where everyone knows everyone! All the locals have a long list of relatives, everyone has several brothers, sisters, nephews, aunties and uncles. Family means everything to them and their policy of ‘what’s mine is yours’ is very apparent especially when we are talking about bikes!
On the first day of workshop, we had several community members from Jobfind attend class and they were quite eager to get their hands dirty. One standout was Vincent – he wanted to learn new things and help the kids in his community repair bikes when they were in trouble.
A few were mechanically minded and their approach was to learn by doing, in which they naturally excelled.
Throughout the day, people from every direction came into to see what we were doing and also asked if they could have a bike. Richard had promised the Women’s group a few bikes and also some health workers, therefore our orders were piling up and it became apparent that a lot of work was in store for us for the next couple of days!
We decided that the Bikes 4 Life team also needed push bikes to get around to offset the burden from Richard, so we opened up the workshop in the late afternoon to organise ourselves. We seem to be quite popularas we had many visitors again and did a small round of distribution for the kids.
Pormpuraaw looks like the middle of nowhere but so many people live with passion and with just a few introductions, we have found many community workers who are dedicated to helping the locals in every way. It is inspiring and we are proud to be a part of it!
One thing we have learned about the locals is that they share everything and take care of each other. They place little value in things but a lot in their family and they respect their elders. We noticed that the same kids would come to the workshop with a different bike each time and ask to borrow the pump. It is because they share the bikes around and as long as they are in the community, we know the bikes are in good hands. A lot of the council workers and locals have commented on how happy they are to see kids riding bikes and giving them something to do during the day. We see so many kids out and about riding the quiet streets and it’s peaceful.
There is certain calm that comes over Pormpuraaw at 5pm when the heat of the sun drops down and we can enjoy a slow bike ride into the sunset towards the beach. Pormpuraaw is a field of dreams and so far, the Bikes 4 Life team are loving every minute of it. Thank you for having us, we really do appreciate it!