Martin Clarke of Rutherglen approached the Corowa Rotary Club to co-ordinate the weekend. The Community Migrant Resource Centre and African Women’s Group both from Sydney had in turn approached Martin about organizing a weekend in the country.
The Rotary Club then put out an appeal for host families and we were fortunate enough to receive more responses than we needed from families from as far away as Rutherglen and Burrumbuttock.
The ladies came from 17 countries, which included China, Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, Palestine, Peru, Kenya, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, South Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Ghana and Congo and were aged between 15 and 80 years.
After arriving on Friday our guests spent Friday night with their host families ready for an early start on Saturday morning. Saturday saw a trip to Rotarian David Talbot’s farm for a shearing exhibition followed by a tour of the farm, then back to Corowa for a Rotary BBQ lunch. The afternoon was a bus trip to All Saints Winery, a stop at the Corowa Whisky and Chocolate Factory and a quick tour of the highlights of Corowa.
Mid afternoon everyone met back at Corowa IGA to buy food for our visitors so they could prepare traditional meals to serve to host families and guests that night at the Corowa Civic Centre.
A total of about 100 people attended the night, enjoying a wide variety of traditional dishes from the countries represented by our visitors. The Sing Australia Choir and Will Johnston and Matt Toy of Squid Doctors Band, provided some Australian themed entertainment. Later in the evening we heard stories about how the ladies came to be in Australia and many of them also performed some traditional songs and dances.
One thing that came over from all the stories was how our guests were to be in Australia and how much they loved their new country.
The weekend concluded with a visit to the Corowa Rotary Federation Market, on Sunday morning, before everyone departed for Sydney.
Special thanks must go to the host families for opening their homes to our visitors, Martin Clarke and Gary Poidevin for their work in organize the weekend, Graeme Brown who helped Gary with the tour guide duties, and Corowa Shire for the use of the Civic Centre.
This visit proved such a success that the ladies returned again in May, this time to talk to Corowa High School student, which proved a very rewarding experience all around.