This is the story of a humble teacher who turned a wooden building on the Murray River into a kind of bush university – one that grew leaders who changed Australia. Thomas Shadrach James, was born in 1859 in Mauritius, an island off the coast of Africa known for its diverse racial make-up, mixed cultures and variety of religious faith. His parents were poor people determined to educate their children. His father worked his way from being an indentured labourer to serving as an interpreter for the British colonial government and a teacher in the Anglican Church. So, it’s no surprise that at the age of fourteen, Thomas was tutoring other boys and fluent in French, English and Tamil.
Discouraging family events drove 20-year-old Thomas to leave home to seek his fortune alone in Australia. His obvious ability saw him enrolled in medicine at Melbourne University in 1880, but a bout of typhus left him with shaking hands. The new immigrant made a disconsolate figure walking Brighton Beach on Port Phillip Bay on January 3rd 1881, his aspiration to be a surgeon shattered. READ MORE ...
I first met David Bussau in Narromine in the Far West of NSW. He was flying in the Outback Patrol Cessna visiting isolated inland towns. I was impressed that this successful entrepreneur would make that kind of effort. Quietly spoken and unassuming, he sat for an hour sharing his story with 20 or so local men over dinner in the RSL Club.
A friend was working with Opportunity International, so I was keen to meet the man who had dreamed up the radical idea of micro-enterprise in the first place. Simon was advising people living in the rubbish tips of Manila on starting their own businesses and I’d heard moving stories of people being liberated from crushing poverty. Hearing David tell the story of his single-handed climb out of a difficult past showed me the beating heart of the movement he pioneered.
A friend and I later had lunch with him in Centennial Park in Sydney and he gave himself freely to discuss entrepreneurial plans we were making. I felt honoured that he gave us time. It was the measure of the man – maintaining a vision for the world and having time to focus on individuals.
Join The Outback Historian, Paul Roe, on an unforgettable journey into Australia's Past as he follows the footprints of the Master Storyteller and uncovers unknown treasures of the nation.