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Giving School Service in Vanuatu

August 15, 2017 at 4:30 PM

With thanks to student reporter, Laura Porter, Year 12

Fourteen of our Year 12 students went back to school during the July holidays, but this was a school unlike any they had visited before, for these students travelled to Vanuatu to spend time offering service at school on Pele Island.

Year 12 student Laura Porter reports, ‘Many of us have been fortunate to visit tropical islands before and so we had an inkling of what to expect, however, we also knew this would be a very different experience from a Pacific Island holiday. Equipped with mosquito nets, sports equipment, books, stationery, gifts, tools and a whole lot more, we arrived at the airport to start our journey.

Our destination was set to be Pele island, a 20-minute boat ride from mainland Vanuatu. Our boats turned the corner and in front of us we saw a beautiful white sandy beach filled with waving arms and the welcoming smiles of the local villagers. Chief John welcomed us onto the island and showed us around the village that would be our home for the next five nights.

Sunday started with attending the local church service in the morning, we then headed over to the school to set up for the coming days. The children were filled with excitement, running around us and guiding us on our walk, which would soon become part of our daily routine. The next morning came and the school was buzzing with 40 happy children from all over the island. We fourteen Saint Kentigern students were divided up into three jobs; painting the buildings with the school colours of black and orange, teaching in the classrooms and rebuilding parts of the school. We got to work and it seemed no matter where we were or what we were doing, there would always be a swarm of kids cheekily surrounding you.

But the best part of the day was lunchtime! Never have I seen so much passion and laughter coming from the boys’ game of no-rules football or the make shift game of volleyball played by the girls. There was never a moment of rest, you’d hear laughter all day from our 6 o’clock wake ups to our 10 o’clock goodnights. Never did it bother anyone, because we knew that they were happy. That’s what we loved about it. The people of Pele Island live every moment with such happiness and ambition, not to forget, with love. Whilst they have next to nothing, every single person we met would be more than willing to give you their all.

This really made saying our goodbyes hard. We were treated with a special song sung by the children, followed by lots of hugs, waves and even a few tears. The bonds we made could in no way be replaced and are something we will treasure forever. All of us agreed that we would be more than willing to go another few days without a shower or a bed if it meant we could stay for longer. However, that wasn’t possible and off we set back to the mainland where we were treated to a day at Vila Chaumieres. A quick stop at the blue lagoon and the cascade waterfalls was the perfect way to end our trip.

The plane ride back was filled with sharing our favourite and funniest moments, and as I looked around everyone had a big smile on their face and their eyes were filled with joy and love for the people. The trip enabled us to fully submerge ourselves into the grassroots of Vanuatuan life, well distanced from the glamourous tourist destinations. Each day presented new challenges and new realisations about the fascinating way these people approach life. It was an experience that I will always remember and has shaped the way I view the world today. We have all come away with so much respect for the happiness of the people who live with such little. We give our grateful thanks to the people of Pele Village and to Mr Chris Dowdle and his wife, Alex for accompanying us on the trip.

 

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