Loving our Yolngu Family: Hope for Health

June 2, 2017 , In: THANKS

‘Tag-ilan?’ (How many for each person?) was the question my siblings and I grew up asking every time we sat at our dinner table. This would refer to the number of pieces of meat or any food that was allowed each child. We didn’t live through the war. The reason behind the rations is that there were 12 of us in the family: my Dad, my Mom and us 10 kids.

My parents have my endless admiration and respect for raising all of us. I know they did so by the grace of God, His undeserved favour that came in the form of relatives and friends. Borrowed money became given money and school fees were written off. The store next door kept a tab for us that grew longer faster than we could pay off. Despite the despair of some days and nights where it felt like I was doused in tears because there was no money to buy textbooks or I didn’t dare make it to our class Christmas party because we simply could not afford a present, there was always hope. After I had missed the party, Mom came home in the afternoon with the present I could give. And even in our state of not having much, I would see my Mom always share the little we had.

I’m beginning to sound like a contestant in X factor with my string of sad stories but what I really want to highlight is how God worked mightily in providing for our family through people. Every person who helped my parents gave us hope to dream, hope to look beyond our basic needs and pursue God-given dreams.

That is what Hope for Health has opened up for our Yolngu brothers and sisters. Hope for Health encourages a return to the goodness of their traditional diet through education and equipping. With the growing number of Yolngu suffering from chronic disease, this is a huge deal. Since we’ve been on Elcho Island, in a matter of five months, there has been at least 12 funerals. There is a sense of urgency and Hope for Health is determined to see things changed, to see lives saved.

What the organisation has already accomplished is staggering. They have all the statistics to blow your socks off but I’d like to focus on the heart of Hope for Health which is why I feel a need to let you know about it.

Hope for Health started with one lady who after just a week and a half on a healthy diet changed from needing a wheelchair to getting back on her feet. This story was bourne out of years of relationship, a beautiful friendship between Yolngu lady, Dianne and founders Tim and Kama Trudgen.

Every documentary, book and article Cameron and I read in preparing to move to Arnhem Land warned about the effects of coming in like you have all the answers. People have come and gone wanting to ‘help’ but instead have added to the damage and devaluing of the people God has made. What I love about the Hope for Health story is that they have broken from this destructive cycle and system. Tim and Kama have listened for years on end and have truly partnered with our Yolngu brothers and sisters. Theirs is not a band-aid solution from top-down but they have walked alongside the Yolngu, have connected with their needs and have loved their neighbours. Isn’t that what Christ has called us to do?

As a result, Hope for Health isn’t a program that’s Tim and Kama’s alone. Hope for Health belongs to the Yolngu.

If you have wondered about how you can help indigenous Australians, Hope for Health is a step in the right direction. Your giving as a monthly sponsor will directly change the course of someone’s life. In more ways than one, you are part of saving someone’s life. There is an immediate and urgent need to restore the health of this great people. They are made in the image of God, just like you and me. If you were in their shoes, wouldn’t you want someone to come alongside you?

Here’s wisdom from God’s Word to bring rebuke where it is needed (my heart to start with): Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?

Ready to match your well wishes with loving action? Head to Hope for Health and be a sponsor. Our Yolngu family needs you.


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Questions and comments

    • Menchierojas
    • June 3, 2017

    God bless this noble cause of Hope for Health. Praying I could help in the soonest possible time. Praying through…..

Rachel Herweynen

Teaching Principal

Alive because of Jesus. My husband Cameron and I have the privilege of living and working in a remote indigenous community, our home, Gäwa on Elcho Island, Australia. What a joy to not only be principal and teacher but also granddaughter, mother, aunty, child and mother-in-law. Above all, always daughter of the King.

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