Worth every moment

25 Jul 2018

They went equipped with paint and paintbrushes, some toys, books and stationery supplies, and came back entranced by the warmth and generosity of their hosts, and their experience of Samoan culture and way of life.

Year 13 students Wilson Murray and Sam Howard had no idea what to expect when they signed up for the Samoa service trip, but were driven by the desire to make a difference. Now, after over a year of planning and fundraising, it is all over – and both boys agree they are the richer for it.

“It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” says Sam. “It feels like we did so little, but it meant so much. It was so cool to see the kids’ faces light up and see how much they enjoyed the new equipment.”

“It doesn’t feel like we changed the world, but we definitely changed their day-to-day lives,” says Wilson. “It was fun to work on the project with mates, and to find out how it doesn’t take a lot of work from us to make a big difference to them.”

The group was based in Lalomanu and worked at the pre-school in the nearby village of Satitoa, sanding and repainting the outdoor play equipment, and installing shelves in and painting a new school building. Although they worked hard, the both say the trip was a nice balance of work and play. They had time to relax and explore, attending church on Sunday – where they were blown away by the strength of the singing – checking out the Apia market, and enjoying trips to the To-Sua ocean trench, Papase’ea rock slide and Piula cave pool. They took every opportunity to mix with the locals, staying one night with a Samoan family and celebrating the end of the project with a fiafia (community get-together), where they were each given an individually screen-printed lavalava as a thank you present.

“Samoa is fantastic. The people are so friendly and welcoming. They have so little and yet are so generous with what they have,” says Wilson.

“We were lucky to be able to go and, after such an amazing time, it was so hard to say goodbye,” says Sam. “I’d recommend it to anyone. Start thinking about the next trip now and go for it 100 per cent. It’s well worth it.”

The group of 12 College boys, accompanied by Assistant Principal – Community Engagement and Special Projects Neil Porter and his wife Debra, were in Samoa from Wednesday 11–Thursday 19 July.

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