Camelman Dreaming and the Children First Foundation

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A slide presentation of the Darwin to Melbourne Thank You Camel Expedition 2008-2009
The expedition took thirteen years to organise and almost two years to walk the 6500kms across some of the Harshest Environments in the world.
Russell Osborne and Ros Consoli walked their camel train through Melbourne City on the 22/11/09 to meet with Trishna and Krishna's Australian Guardian, Moira Kelly to say thank you to her for a life of changing and saving children's lives.
Russell Osborne is planning a solo camel expedition from Perth to Sydney in 2013. Again in support of Moira Kelly and the Children First Foundation.
Perth to Sydney Thank You Camel Expedition website:
http://perthtosydneycamelexpedition.blogspot.com/

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  • Title Page THE Darwin to Melbourne Thank You Camel Expedition took thirteen years to make the necessary changes within myself in order to complete a dream. A dream that many, including other camel people, said was impossible. There was one thing I knew......It WAS possible and I was going to do it, regardless of the hurdles and the struggle of getting such a project together.
  • This short video clip is an overview of the thirteen year journey. The stories and the events that happened during this period are too many to describe here but essentially, the essence of the journey is displayed here.
  • A wild herd of camels mustered up near Lake Eyre. From this herd, the expedition camels were selected according to their individual personalities and attributes which are suitable for training.
  • Training a camel takes years of patients, love and trust between camel and man. For years, Ros and I lived at William Creek, S.A. In order to learn camel handling and training from Australia’s foremost camelman, Mr Phil Gee.
  • Walking seven hundred kilometres to Alice springs to train the camels into expedition work. The journey took seven weeks and by the time we arrived in Alice Springs, the temperature was in the mid forty’s.
  • All of the camel equipment had to be hand made by Ros and myself. Here is one years food supply for the two year expedition. Meals had to be carefully worked out to incorporate carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and minerals, the weights of the supplies and the space the supplies take.
  • After eleven years, we started walking along the 6500km journey from the Top End towards the Western Australian Border.
  • Different milestones meant different things to both Ros and myself.
  • Along the Canning stock Route we walked cross country, relying on map and compass to know exactly where we were at any one time. With hundreds of kms distance between us and the nearest town, we had to rely entirely upon the years of training and preparation for our own survival.
  • The Canning Stock Route had wells dug by Alfred Canning when the stock route was created. The Darwin to Melbourne Thank You Camel Expedition was the last camel train to travel down the stock route in the first hundred years of it’s operation.
  • Travelling over thousands of sand dunes in one of the most isolated parts of the planet.
  • Being in wild bull camel country, the reality of survival was for ever present. Twenty four hours of the day, I had to carry the rifle in case of a wild bull camel attack.
  • Three camels had succumbed to poison bush poisoning and were lucky to survive. The possible danger of being stuck out in the middle of the desert with dead camels was now a reality and the feral bull camel situation was worsening. Guarding the expedition camels and protecting ourselves was now a full time 24/7 position, on top of the usual day to day routine.
  • After months of being in the wilderness, we finally arrived at the second most remote community in the world. To us, it was a thriving metropolis where we could get a drink of coke and eat a meat pie. The Aboriginal kids loved the camels and the gentleness of the camels showed through when being handled by the kids. Now we were on the home run towards Alice Springs with another two months still to go to complete the first year of the expedition.
  • Along the Western Australian and Northern Territory border, we came across herds and herds of wild camels, some numbering in their hundreds. They would come into the camp at night and for weeks, we suffered from lack of sleep and constant threat from the wild bull camels.
  • After eight months of walking, we arrived at Alice Springs. By now we had lost over forty kilograms between us and the camels were more than ready for a rest in preparation for the second years trekking. The hottest temperature we had experienced prior to arriving Alice Springs was 51.9 degrees in the shade.
  • After a rest in Alice springs, Mayor Damien Ryan wished the camel expedition well for the second years trekking towards Melbourne. Many people joined us on the Council Chamber Lawns which so happened to be the exact location of the original camel yards for Alice springs during the Inland Camel Transportation System days.
  • Citizens and friends walked with us through the Gap in Alice springs on our way to Melbourne.
  • Children First Foundation was launched in 1999 to support the work of the internationally acclaimed humanitarian Moira Kelly, AO. Rotary District 9790 came on board during this time. Its mission is to provide a safe haven for children, irrespective of race or creed, who are in need of medical or emotional support. It does this by conducting a medical evacuation program for children from developing, war-torn and/or countries in need of humanitarian aid to assist children in need of life saving/changing surgery and rehabilitation.
  • Moira has assisted and supported the handicapped, the disabled, the homeless, the sick and the suffering, and raised funds. She has provided much needed humanitarian aid and relief to thousands of people.
  • Australian Between the Gaps’ assists disadvantaged Australian children in need of ancillary medical support. Ancillary medical support, consists of eg orthodontic, orthotic, plastic surgeries, speech pathology, developmental aids etc. Referred by family services groups, eg Orana Family Services and McKillop Family Services. Assistance provided ranges $3,000 - $5,000 per child. The gECHO (getting Every Child’s Heart Okay) program is a Rheumatic Heart Disease Screening project of Indigenous young people in Northern Australia. Those children identified as requiring cardiac surgery will come through the CFF Program in Melbourne where it will provide support and accommodation at the Rehabilitation Farm in Kilmore – built by Rotary District 9790 1999-2001. gECHO is a major health project as Australia’s Indigenous population has one of the highest levels of rheumatic heart disease in the world. RHD is the most common acquired heart disease of children worldwide – it is a disease of disadvantage and it can be prevented! (Conducted by the Menzies School of Health Research in conjunction with a number of other institutions, with major funding provided by the Australian Government. The Project is being undertaken in collaboration with and with funding from Children First Foundation (CFF). CFF has provided funding for a cardiologist to undertake screening 4,000 indigenous children in Northern Australia to identify rheumatic heart disease . amongst indigenous and other children. It will conclude in 2010 with its findings presented to the Federal Government.)
  • Teagan Eye case
  • Getting Every Child’s Heart Okay is a Rheumatic Heart Disease screening program on 4000 Indigenous children from the Top End of Australia. This study has never been completed before. In conjunction with the Menzies School of Research, children identified will be referred to Children First to facilitate surgery here in Melbourne and/or Perth
  • identifies children in war-torn or poverty-stricken lands suffering from debilitating illness, injury or deformity, and brings them to Australia for life-saving or profoundly life-changing surgery. Muslim child brought to Bethesda (Salvation Army) operated on by Jewish specialist and brought to Australia – as Moira says - by a ‘mick’
  • To date, the evacuation program has been extremely successful with over 350 children from countries such as: Albania, Bosnia, East Timor, Ethiopia, Iraq, Macedonia, Papua New Guinea, Palestine, Pakistan, Somalia, Tibet and Uganda. Children have been sent to New York, Boston, Toronto, Dublin, Galway, Belfast, Sligo, Vienna, London, Sydney, Dubbo and Adelaide, however most come to Melbourne for surgery by specialists who donate their time. Many private hospitals provide free hospital care; while leading public paediatric hospitals charge a negotiated fee.
  • Ishraq lit a match near an empty petrol can not knowing the petrol had spilt on the ground. CFF contacted world renowned Fiona Wood AC. With her advice to field trip doctors Ishraq did not die, however we were unable to bring him to Australia. CFF then contacted Interplast surgeon Ian Carlisle who contact surgeons in New Zealand who in turn got ROMAC involved. On return to Fiji Ishraq has really missed TV! Quilt made by Inner Wheel.
  • Hien, 14 years old from Vietnam was diagnosed with Carney Complex, and extremely rare form of Cushings disease. He required surgery to remove his adrenal glands, and surely would have died if he hadn’t been treated. This complex disease, which affects the heart, adrenal glands and testes meant Hien’s growth was stunted; he was swollen and suffered low self-esteem. During his stay he was also given a bone strengthening infusion to help him to grow. Although requiring ongoing daily medication, Hien will be able to return to Vietnam a happy teenager with a normal life expectancy.
  • Tatu comes from Dar es Salaam and was born with two club feet. Her slight frame enabled her to stand but as she got older she would have had great difficulty in walking. Following nearly 12 months of surgery and rehabilitation she has returned home. While here in Australia she went to school and achieved well and now back in Tanzania she is attending a local private school funded by friends of the Foundation.
  • Trishna and Krishna were successfully separated in November 2009. Leading up to the separation they underwent nine operations, some of which have taken 21 hours! Each of the surgeries were extremely delicate and their lives have hung in the balance on more than one occasion. Although they still have a long road ahead medically, they continue to thrive and are two adorable toddlers who are crawling and getting into mischief.
  • The above does not cover costs associated with the operation of our Farm. Children often arrive suffering from malnutrition and needing special feeding supplements. All children arrive in just the clothes they are standing in. The Foundation has a wide pool of surgeons, physicians and other medical staff and technicians in Australia prepared to operate on and treat children free of charge. A number of private hospitals also offer beds; however for very complicated and serious cases, the Foundation uses the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne at reduced rates. Our children have often been deprived of even the most basic of health and medical services and facilities and they haven’t had a chance of obtaining the necessary sophisticated treatment and surgery they may require as it simply not available in their home country. In some cultures and environments, where because of their physical condition no worthy place or meaningful role is seen for them, children can be left neglected and hidden. Some children have even been stoned.
  • While receiving treatment and recovering, the children live with Moira and a dedicated team of volunteers at the Farm near Kilmore. The children can stay from a few weeks up to two years according to their treatment needs. While not receiving treatment, the longer-stay children attend local private schools in Kilmore and most are able to return to their countries speaking English and all with a learning boost. The Farm is run by volunteers who give up a minimum of six months (continuously) to assist the Foundation provide respite care for the children in need. Other volunteers bring meals to family members in hospital. Some take the children on outings. The contribution of volunteer carers significantly decreases the running cost of the Farm. It doesn’t matter colour your skin is!
  • Camelman Dreaming and the Children First Foundation

    1. 1. THE DARWIN TO MELBOURNE “THANK YOU” CAMEL EXPEDITION 2008-2009
    2. 3. Catching wild camels to select the expedition camels. William Creek, South Australia .
    3. 4. Training the selected camels. This process develops trust between camel and human. .
    4. 5. The Training Walk. 700kms from William Creek to Alice Springs .
    5. 6. One years food supplies.
    6. 7. Eleven Years of planning. On our way. Northern Highway. N.T .
    7. 8. A Mental Milestone. N.T. and W.A. Border
    8. 9. Cross Country Trekking Map and Compass Navigation .
    9. 10. Canning Stock Route Water A Valuable Resource.
    10. 11. Desert Country
    11. 12. Protection
    12. 13. Protecting the herd from wild bull camels
    13. 14. Community Kids
    14. 15. Feral Camels. Australia has 1.4 million wild camels.
    15. 16. End of the first year of the expedition. Arriving in Alice Springs.
    16. 17. Leaving Alice Springs. Second year.
    17. 18. Alice Springs Residents walking with the camels. Todd River, Alice Springs
    18. 19. Simpson Desert
    19. 20. Old Ghan Railway Line .
    20. 21. Ghan Town. Marree, S.A .
    21. 22. Flinders Ranges. S.A .
    22. 23. Outback Border Crossing.
    23. 24. Entering Victoria
    24. 25. Meeting Moira Kelly
    25. 26. Country Victoria
    26. 27. Crossing the Great Dividing Range.
    27. 28. Through the Mountains
    28. 29. Outer Suburbs Melbourne.
    29. 30. 100 metres to go!
    30. 31. 13 years in the making. The completion of a 6500km Transcontinental Camel Expedition across Australia’s harshest environments.
    31. 32. Senior Police Assistance getting through Melbourne.
    32. 33. Brighton Sea Scouts Melbourne
    33. 34. Brighton Beach Huts Melbourne
    34. 35. Fitzroy Street, St Kilda Melbourne
    35. 36. The Shrine of Remembrance Melbourne
    36. 37. Meeting the Governor of Victoria and his wife, Mr and Mrs De Kretser
    37. 38. The Dream....Walking into Melbourne CBD 22/11/09
    38. 39. Collins Street Melbourne
    39. 40. Saying Thank You to Moira Kelly
    40. 41. JOB DONE! Walking out of Melbourne
    41. 42. This is what it was all about!
    42. 45. ‘ To transform the lives of children who need us most, by giving hope, exceptional care and pathways to a brighter future'.
    43. 47. <ul><li>Between the Gaps </li></ul><ul><li>gECHO project (getting Every Child’s Heart Okay) </li></ul><ul><li>Miracle sMiles Program </li></ul>
    44. 48. <ul><li>Children referred by youth and family services organisations, eg Orana Family Services </li></ul><ul><li>May include orthodontics, orthotics, speech pathology, ophthalmological and developmental aids </li></ul><ul><li>$3,000 - $5,000 assistance per child </li></ul>
    45. 49. <ul><li>Conducted in conjunction with Menzies School of Health Research and other medical institutions </li></ul><ul><li>Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) project to screen 4,000 Indigenous children in Northern Australia. </li></ul>
    46. 50. Identifies children from developing countries suffering from debilitating illness, injury or deformity, and brings them to Australia for profoundly life-changing surgery.
    47. 51. To date the Program assisted over 200 children in Australia. Also facilitated 200 in-country surgeries.
    48. 53. On arrival 6 weeks later 6 months later in Vietnam
    49. 54. Recovering from surgery In Tanzania 14 months after surgery
    50. 59. <ul><li>Surgery costs are generally $20,000 - $35,000 depending on the type and severity of the child’s condition </li></ul><ul><li>Ancillary medical, travel costs and the provision of necessities are, on average, $8,000 per child </li></ul><ul><li>Doctors, surgeons, nurses, other medical specialists and organisations provide their time and expertise on a pro bono basis </li></ul>
    51. 61. <ul><li>9 honorary Directors, inc Moira Kelly </li></ul><ul><li>CEO, Margaret Smith </li></ul><ul><li>3 full-time staff members </li></ul><ul><li>5 part-time staff members </li></ul><ul><li>30 regular volunteers </li></ul>

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