On Tuesday the 15th of July we all piled into 4WD’S and set out along the dirt track towards Santa Teresa. We left the cold and rainy weather of Alice Springs and entered into the beautiful country of Ltyentye Apurte where we began our spiritual journey. After settling in, and meeting Sr. Liz we began our community service at the local crèche where we cleaned mistreated windows. After which, we were honoured to meet Meye and participate in a Traditional Arrernte smoking ceremony where our spirits were healed. Traditional healers provide an alternative to modern day medicine along with sharing their wisdom and knowledge of tradition and community. At the conclusion of this day we had already gained a wealth of knowledge as well as an appreciation of the respect that the Arrernte people have for their land.
Over the next few days we offered our services in the Community Centre, the crèche and spent time engaging with the Aboriginal women of the community paint in the Spirituality Centre. In the Community Centre we spent the day making various breakfast and lunch packs to feed the community elders. After this we had the opportunity to deliver these packs though a Meals-on-Wheels program, where we travelled around on a golf buggy driven by some of the Aboriginal ladies. All of the people living in the homes that we visited welcomed us with open arms and had the kindest of hearts, talking openly and freely with us.
At the crèche, we were of service by doing whatever was needed of us. These included simple things such as cleaning and serving meals, but mostly playing with and looking after the children. They workers at the crèche were very welcoming and lovely and we enjoyed hearing their many stories.
A way of taking in what we were doing was walking to the top of Santa Teresa hill. After many falls and staggers, mostly by Terri-Anne Scott, we arrived at the top. Here was where we sat individually and practiced dadirri-the art of deep listening, which allowed us to take in the breathtaking landscape surrounding us. The hill was a place of reflection on the pilgrimage that had taken place. It gave us the opportunity to meditate, within ourselves, about what the trip has accomplished for each one of us.
Honestly, words can’t explain the wealth of knowledge we have gained throughout this trip, as well as our increased awareness regarding the Aboriginal culture and their spirituality. Spending time on this journey has helped us understand the importance of the land for Aboriginal people and has helped us feel more connected with it here in our own home.
As we were entering Santa Teresa we had a vision to help the community, but we left knowing the community had helped us in more ways than one. Santa Teresa has helped us embrace the idea of living simply and demonstrated the power of a community. Amongst other things we recognised how much we are caught up in a world full of materialism, and how little emphasis we place on the simple things in life. While in Santa Teresa we learnt to be patient, to appreciate our surroundings and most of all work together as a team to achieve a common goal. Leaving Santa Teresa was the hardest thing we did all week, as this special place had grown so close to our hearts and taught us many valuable lessons. We thank everyone in the Xavier community that made this trip possible.
Written by Olivia Sinclair, Emma Aldrich, Ellie Mitsch, Ebony Moran, Dominique Beer, and Sarah O’Brien.