Creating role models

CEO Blog – June 2020

Writing children’s books is not a core business for a CEO, but it is a passion of mine and certainly takes care of any potential downtime.

I recently wrote and published a children’s book set in Maningrida titled Ngayi Nga-ngeydi Patricia/My name is Patricia. The concept had been germinating for a while.

I subscribe to the theory that ‘to be it, you need to see it’. So, to encourage children to be proud of themselves and see value in going to school, I needed a relatable role model who lived a familiar life with shared experiences.

Along came the idea of capturing Patricia’s daily life, her love of school and ambition to graduate to become a ranger and sharing it in an illustrated storybook.

Patricia is a colleague’s daughter. She often ventured into the BAC office after school, treating us to her smile which lights up a room. We would have a chat; she’d talk about school and was so proud that she goes EVERY day. She intended to graduate like her big sister and be a ranger, like her mum.

Patricia’s only complaint about school is that it’s sometimes difficult listening and speaking English all day when her first language is Kune. That grew my idea. Maningrida has a population of around 2000 which speaks 15 different languages.

Only about 100 speak Kune so it is considered endangered and recording it is vital to its survival. The book reads in English one way, then flip it over and the story is translated in Kune. It was a two-year project and hugely exciting for Patricia and her family.

You can purchase the book through the Bábbarra Women’s Centre online store and funds go to supporting our Culture Office

Recently, the book found its way into the hands of a rural New Zealand school principal who videoed its reading and shared it through her school Facebook page during the lockdown. Watch the video here

Patricia’s mum Delilah and I were also interviewed about the book on the ABC by the lovely broadcaster Miranda Tetlow. You can listen to the interview  ABC interview with Miranda Tetlow