In the beginning, what motivated you to work and live in remote Indigenous communities?

I came to Central Australia for the first time in July 2007. I was working in Buenos Aires University teaching photography to young people and went to visit my boyfriend Be, who was working in Mutitjulu for the youth program.  I went there without knowing what that would be like, but I fell in love in two minutes; with the kids, the old ladies, the landscapes. Uluru is quite unique, and we were staying at house #1, that has the nearest backyard to The Rock! I remember waking up every morning before the sun hit the rock. Just a few seconds later everything was bathed in a reddish purple light, changing from hundred of reds to striking oranges.


Because I was there as a visitor, I wanted to give something back to the community, and so we organised a felt-making workshop. This was a total success with the ladies and the kids; in one week everyone worked so hard that Maruku Arts was amazed by the results and suggested we apply for a grant from Arts NT. Before I knew it I was working on a larger project, that took me back from Buenos Aires to Mutitjulu for a second time six months later. That was just the beginning! Over the next ten years, I lived in a remote Indigenous community for four years and another five in Alice Springs. I got married, had a son, created amazing artwork, published a book, bought a home, had the opportunity to work with youth programs and for incredible Art Centres, and met the most amazing people! Considering all of this; how on earth could I not have have been motivated?!

Why do believe mentoring is so important?

I think mentoring helps you to go through difficult times with more ease and less pain, than if you are all alone. It gives you perspective and helps you to not give up on your dreams, and also helps you to realise what are your strengths and your weaknesses. It gives you another point of view, helps you to be centred and helps you to make better-informed decisions. It also helps you navigate difficult situations, understanding what’s important and what’s not. I think that for surviving living and working in community, mentoring is a necessity.

What or who inspires you?

Nature with its amazing shapes, colours and combination of elements and its landscapes.

My son, because he can show me the polarities in life. He challenges me to grow, learn and research every day. He makes me feel like the most special being in the world, and he has helped me to develop the most powerful feeling of resilience.

And last but not least; relationships between people, how we manage to relate to each other with our differences and similarities. Friendship and family are very important values for me, and for sure give me a big dose of inspiration.

Tamara Burlando
World Central Mentor

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