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Making sure guests feel welcome

Making sure guests feel welcome

Lily and Carol spend their days and nights making sure guests feel welcome, and now our supporters have made them feel welcome, too.

The two Ni-Vanuatu women are living in Curtin Springs, near Uluru, as part of the Pacific Labour Scheme. They’ve had to leave their family and culture behind in Vanuatu so they could work hard to send money back home to give their families a better future.

They’ve found themselves in the deepest centre of Australia. No ocean, no sway of palm trees, no access to the food they’ve grown up with, and no place of worship in Curtin Springs.

Back home, their lives revolved around family and church.

Bush Chaplain Benji Quilliam was recently able to brighten the lives of Lily and Carol and other Ni-Vanuatu and iTaukei (Fijian) workers in Curtin Springs.

Benji explains: “I heard about a group looking for spiritual support. Some had just arrived, so they were looking for some practical support as well.

“They’re quite isolated there. They don’t have transport or a car to get to Alice Springs or go to church. There’s not even a supermarket in the town.

“They are well looked after in terms of food and accommodation through their employer, but they are desperately missing that vital spiritual and emotional support.

“They miss home. They miss their family. A lot of them had to leave their families behind, even young children, for the opportunity to make better money.

“It’s hard for them.”

Benji has visited twice, each time bringing shopping including work shoes, spare clothes and special snacks.

On the second visit, he arrived with very special cargo in his car: 10 kilo boxes of frozen cassava.

Cassava is similar to sweet potato and is a daily staple for the iTaukei. No meal is complete without it back home.

Benji says, “We’re working on getting the local IGA to stock it, but until then, I’ll need to stash it in my car fridge!”

Good for the spirit

On his most recent visit, Benji was able to offer something they wanted even more than cassava. He could take them to a church service – plus a visit to Uluru.

After spending so much time making sure guests feel welcome under their own hospitality, it’s uplifting to see the joy on Lily and Carol’s faces as they experience something they’ve always longed for.

“One said to me, ‘I’ve always seen photos of Uluru, and I never thought I’d ever be able to see it in real life, but here I am.’ ”

After a beautifully moving visit to Uluru, the group was able to attend their first church service in a very long time. The Pacific Islanders’ singing was spine-tingling!