Year 8 Students Offer Service in Vanuatu

October 21, 2019 at 4:18 PM

Year 8 Students Offer Service in Vanuatu
With thanks to Chaplain, Reverend Reuben Hardie

After building strong relationships in Vanuatu last year, a group of students, including Saint Kentigern Staff and parents packed their bags and flew over to offer service.

Split over two weeks, 100 Saint Kentigern helpers rolled up their sleeves and got stuck into building and painting projects at Etas Presbyterian School and Macses Presbyterian School in Port Vila. The students installed playgrounds donated by Auckland City Council and painted their classrooms. They also distributed clothes, shoes and hygiene packs to the students, their families and the community, as well as distributing over 500 bras to the women.

The team also installed three outdoor tables and chairs at the main Presbyterian church and renovated three apartments at Sutherland House - a residence operated by the Presbyterian Church for international mission and service workers. 

Recent Presbyterian Church Global Mission Workers, Neville and Gloria Jones, also travelled with the group to help facilitate the service trip. The team worked tirelessly to achieve their goals and it was an incredible feeling for the group watching the children enjoy their new playgrounds once completed. It was even more rewarding to see the way our students interacted with the local children - the laughter, learning and new relationships forged will be cherished by our students and our parents for a long time to come.

As expected, our students were fully engaged, whether it was mixing cement, painting, playing sport with the local students or reading in their classes. It is these connections and friendships made between our students and the students of Vanuatu which makes these trips so special.

Our thanks to the staff and parent helpers who made the trip possible and to the Saint Kentigern community for their generosity in donating over the past 6 months. We also thank Kerry Logistics who sponsored the 40-foot container to transport the donated goods to Vanuatu, and Stacy Colyer from GreensceneNZ who led the playground initiative. Your contribution helped make a difference to the communities we support, and they were truly thankful.


Year 8 students from the Boys’ School and the Girls’ School reported on their experience:

Charlie Astwick, Boys’ School: Reflecting on the trip, I feel like we improved the quality of life for so many people whilst we were over there, whether it was the playground at Etas, painting Southerland House or just being there with the kids. I think that this trip has made me find my love for helping others - I feel like I learned this about myself because of the smiles we put on faces, the way they would run up to us when we arrived, or the way that I felt every night when I reflected on the day. The feeling in the evening was incredible. I would lie in bed staring at the roof thinking about the ways that I made a difference and how I would change their lives again tomorrow. The type of work like digging holes, painting and assembling playgrounds never seemed to get boring and I think it was because if you just turned around, you would see these children who were so excited for their new playground. This trip was also very good for team building as we got to work together a lot and were always giving encouragement. I also loved the bonding with my dad, I enjoyed the time we spent one on one, whether it was helping to assemble one of the playgrounds or just in the morning waking up to breakfast together. Overall, I really enjoyed my time and I am so proud of what our group achieved together.

Finn Watney, Boys’ School: ‘Halo, nem blong mi, Finn.’  That was how I introduced myself to the kind-hearted people of Vanuatu. I was lucky enough to be on the second service trip which was filled with memories and incredible experiences. I specifically remember handing out clothes in the village. Everyone was so grateful. I recall a little girl running back to her corrugated iron hut holding a grey polo top for her father. This warmed my heart and reminded me of how lucky we are.  I also remember when I was working at Sutherland House, a small building with four apartments used for locals and service groups passing through. There was a young boy living in the room below where we were working. I think back to him always trying to help us paint the walls or wash the stairs. He was always working even when nobody asked him to. It made me think about always doing my best. I kept this in mind for the rest of the trip.  We did a lot of work there, for instance, digging through endless coral, sanding the floors and mixing the concrete for the playground equipment. This was tiring and I was happy to see my pillow at the end of the day! The children we met were unforgettable. When we finished the playgrounds, I loved the way they sprinted up the playground steps and dived onto the swings and flew down the slides. Overall, the trip to Vanuatu was humbling and completely life changing.

Tiana Gray, Girls’ School: The Vanuatu Service trip was an experience I’ll never forget – it has taught me a tremendous amount about life. I noticed how little the children had, although this never bothered them because they always wore a big bright smile. Playing games with the children and handing out clothing was really humbling. Building the playgrounds was a tough job but the work paid off once we were able to see their reactions. I also loved painting the children and teachers’ faces. This has made me realise never take things for granted and I am grateful for everything I have.  I am extremely thankful to have been a part of the service trip team.

Charlie Gundy, Girls’ School: The Vanuatu Service Trip was an eye-opening experience and really helped me see how happy these people are even when they have so little. I learned that a lot of these kids don’t have basic things like toothbrushes, undies, clean water and clothes that don’t have rips in them. This made me realise that we are so fortunate here in New Zealand. My favourite part of this trip was giving the hygiene packs to the little kids because they don’t have these basic needs. When we finished the playground, it was really exciting to see them all running, playing and smiling. This is a week I will never forget.


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