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Tears for Tale of a Lamented Mother

Resource type: News

Canberra Times |

Therese Rein was brought to tears yesterday as she read a poem by 14-year-old Sianna Eland. The Canberra schoolgirl wrote about her mother, Maria King, who died seven years ago. The Prime Minister’s wife was asked to share the poem with a crowd gathered at The Lodge to launch the Indigenous Literacy Project. Ms Rein was visibly moved as she read, ”Mother I miss you so much as on my cheek I feel a tear and I hunger for your touch”. When she had finished the poem, Ms Rein dried her eyes, embraced Sianna and gently kissed the teenager on the forehead. Ms Rein is patron of the Indigenous Literacy Project a partnership between the Australian Book Industry and Fred Hollows Foundation to send books to remote indigenous communities. ”It is wonderful to see an industry that is all about reading and is all about books reach out to indigenous communities and say, ‘We think it is just as important that you have access to appropriate and interesting well-written reading material as everybody else’,” she said. It was an awfully big adventure for six children who travelled from Barunga, Manyallaluk and Wugularr communities in the Northern Territory to share their stories with Ms Rein. It was the first time that the children, aged from nine to 16, had flown and visited the national capital. They took part in a writing workshop and produced little illustrated books with author Andy Griffiths, who remarked it was rare for writers to launch their first book at The Lodge. The children wrote about floods, a community festival, fishing with family and shopping in Darwin for a jumper to wear in Canberra. Some of Australia’s most celebrated writers including David Malouf, Alexis Wright, Tara June Winch, Anita Heiss and Kate Grenville listened to the stories or read them aloud for the young authors who were too shy. Ms Rein praised the authors who support the project. ”Having such distinguished writers involved with this project both sets a wonderful inspiration for indigenous children and also sends a really strong message about how important our efforts are,” Ms Rein said. The project hopes to raise more than $250,000 on Indigenous Literacy Day. Australians can help by buying a book at participating stores on September 3 or sending a donation to the Fred Hollows Foundation.

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