Home‎ > ‎Generosity‎ > ‎

Folk Tale


Give Generously Australian Folk Tale: How the Kangaroo got her Pouch    https://sites.google.com/site/valueslessons

Long ago a mother kangaroo was grooming her joey on the bank of a creek when an old wombat staggered toward them. 
“Oh dear,” the kangaroo whispered to her baby. “That poor wombat is old and sick.”
As the wombat veered closer, she heard the sound of weeping. She heard him say, “Useless and worthless, worthless and useless.”
“What’s the trouble, friend wombat?” she asked.
“Huh?” he said, startled. “Who said that?”
“I did,” said the kangaroo. “Kangaroo and Joey.”
“I’m blind,” the wombat replied. “Nobody wants me around. I’m no good any more. They’ve abandoned me, all of them.”
The kind hearted kangaroo said, “It’s not as bad as all that. I’ll be your friend. Joey and I will show you where the tastiest grass grows.” 
She let the wombat hold her tail and slowly led him over to the juiciest grass and cleanest water. The old wombat sighed with pleasure. It made the kangaroo happy to see him feeling better.
Suddenly she remembered her joey! She'd told him to stay close, but he'd wandered off again. She raced back to look for him. This had happened many times. She’d search for food, and when she looked up, he'd have wandered off. It scared her terribly. Perhaps a dingo had caught him!
She found her joey fast asleep under a gum tree. Not wanting to wake him, she went back to check on the old wombat. 
But something was moving in the bush nearby. An Aboriginal hunter was silently stalking the wombat! His boomerang was raised above his head, its smooth sharp edges ready to slice the air. The kangaroo froze. She couldn’t breathe. She wanted to flee. But the wombat - she had to protect him! She began to stomp on the branches and twigs under her feet. Thump, thump, crack, crack, she pounded out the alarm. The hunter turned toward her.
“Run,” she screamed to the wombat, “Run, there’s a hunter.” 
The wombat took off crazily, not knowing where he was going. The hunter didn’t care. Now all he wanted was the kangaroo!
The kangaroo hopped as fast as she could into the bush, away; away from where she'd left her joey sleeping. Her heart thumped wildly in her throat as she fled for her life. At last she came to a cave. She was too tired to go farther, so with one last mighty bound, she leapt inside and collapsed onto the dirt floor. At least he would kill her in the cool dark, not out in the open where other poor animals might see.
But the hunter ran past the mouth of the cave! The kangaroo stayed inside, silently listening for his return; afraid to leave and afraid to stay. 
Finally, she saw him walk back past the cave, his boomerang hanging from his hand. She waited until it was safe, then hopped as fast as she could back to the gum tree. There was her joey, awake and ready to play. Together they went to look for the wombat, but he'd gone.
What the kangaroo mother didn’t know was that the wombat wasn’t really a wombat. He was actually the great god Baiame who had put on a disguise. Baiame had come down from the sky world to find out which of his creatures had the kindest heart. Now he had an answer that pleased him greatly: the kangaroo. Baiame wanted to give her a gift; the gift that would help her most of all. He called a sky spirit and said, “Go down below to where the eucalyptus grow tall. Peel the long strips of bark and weave a dilly bag apron. Give it to the kangaroo mother and explain that she must tie it around her waist.”
And so she did. And the very moment the kangaroo mother tied the apron around her waist, Baiame transformed it into soft kangaroo fur. It grew into her own flesh. Now she had a pouch in which to carry her baby joey. He could even sleep in there as she went about her daily tasks.
The kangaroo mother was very happy with her gift. But because she was the kindest creature of all, she didn’t want to keep it only for herself. She thought about the other kangaroo mothers and about the wallaby mothers and all the other marsupials.
Baiame loved the kangaroo’s generous heart, so he decided to make pouches for all the marsupial mothers. Ever since then, their babies almost never get lost.

“How the Kangaroo Got Her Pouch.” by Flood, Bo, Beret E. Strong and William Flood. Ref: http://www.wisdomcommons.org/virtue/57-generosity/parables

Discussion Questions
1. What gifts did the kangaroo give the wombat? (grass, clean water, hope, friendship, kindness, safety; she risked her life to save him.)
2. What gift did Baiame give back? (a pouch, safety for her joey, peace of mind for her)
3. Why did Baiame decide to share this gift with all the marsupials? (The kangaroo wanted them to have the same benefits that she had, and because Baiame loved her generous heart, he granted her desire.)
4. What does 'giving is contageous' mean? Do you think that this is true? Why?

Optional Activity
A colouring picture of a kangaroo and her joey may be found at: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/522910206709132226/ 

Images: http://thumbs.dreamstime.com/t/high-quality-kangaroo-her-baby-vector-cartoon-illustration-image-51877112.jpg https://cdn.farfaria.com/uploads/story/cover_art/4fda5e22f0f9550001000029/small_320_0-final-cover-how-the-kangaroo-got-its-pouch---jclaridades-pdeleon.jpg
http://classroomclipart.com/images/gallery/Clipart/Animals/Kangaroo_Clipart/TN_jumping-kangaroo-914.jpg Wombat: http://funkman.org/animal/mammal/wombat.gif