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Ten-year-old Alice Springs School of the Air (ASSOA) student, Paul Machado, lives in the remote Aboriginal community of Kintore, 460 kilometres west of Alice Springs, receiving his lessons and transmitting his work through a short-wave antenna that sits atop his family home.
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An afternoon walk in the desert surrounding Paul’s home provides Kylie and Siobhan with the chance to explore the environment in which Paul and his parents, Peter Schaefer and Jennifer Delima, live, and for all to discuss any concerns relating to Paul’s education.
Siobhan and Kylie farewell Paul, Jennifer and Peter as they wing their way to Darwin for a family support weekend. “The weekend gives doctors a chance of some peer contact,” Peter says. For the teachers, it’ll be a nine-hour, dusty desert journey back to Alice.
By attending the Walungurru community school, Paul has made friends with many of the local children. Importantly, here he’s also able to enjoy sport, art and craft activities not possible over the radio.
The experiences of visiting and living in a place such as Kintore will remain with Siobhan, Kylie and Paul always. “To be enveloped by this inspiring landscape and such cultural diversity expands not only the mind, but the senses,” Kylie says.
While they speak over short-wave radio four times a week, this is Paul and Siobhan’s first face-to-face meeting. “It’s important to spend some quality time getting to know one another,” Siobhan says. “Then, when I leave and the radio lessons resume, we both have a much greater appreciation of who’s on the other end off the line.”
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