Year 13 House Building Service Trip to Vanuatu

August 10, 2017 at 3:14 PM

With thanks to student reporter, Rebecca Worthington 

As a student with the privilege of attending Saint Kentigern College and living in a house with a fridge and air conditioning, the Year 13 building trip to Vanuatu was certainly a humbling experience. Fifteen students and three teachers travelled to Port Vila on the first Saturday of the July Holidays. On arrival, we drove through the countryside to the small village of Eaton – this is where we met the people we would be staying with at a school for the week. We were shown our rooms for the next five days, a classroom for the boys, and one for the girls, and we each found a floorspace to settle down in.

To say it was a culture change would be an understatement. We were introduced to the children and the principals of the school who welcomed us with handmade leis, a speech and a school song. That afternoon, armed with a bunch of tennis balls and hair accessories, we were released into the midst of the children.

The next morning, we went to a church service and in the afternoon, we got our first look at the building site. We were split up into two groups for the week, one for each house, where we started making the frames. We managed to get a large majority of these done before heading off for a swim in the gorgeous blue lake with some of the locals. Come Monday, we finished off making the frames, dug some foundation holes and began to put up the walls. This was definitely a hard day, and probably the hottest. We began to mix the cement with shells and sand collected in wheelbarrows from the beach. Using spades and a wheelbarrow, and giving our arms quite the workout, we filled in the foundation holes so that the frames were standing.

Each evening after we returned from the building site, we would play with the children and then eat a fantastic dinner ranging from chicken to coleslaw, to beef stew and rice - lots of rice! We would then gather together, play games and talk, forming strong friendships - which were then tested in games of ‘Mafia!’

 In the mornings, some of us got up early to try and catch the sunrise before starting our day. Tuesday and Wednesday were focussed on nailing up the walls, putting on the roof and painting the outside. We learnt how to saw, paint, and stand on very little, three metres in the air, and still manage to hammer in a nail!

We somehow managed to get more paint on ourselves than on the actual houses but a couple of handprints and a dropped paint carton later, we were looking at what could definitely be called a house. All that was left was for the concrete to be laid on the inside of the house. This took many, many trips to the beach, so Ms Standring organised a roster that had people alternating shovelling sand into the wheelbarrow and carrying it back to the site. On Thursday, we split in half again, with some of us staying back to teach the students in the school and play games with them, while the other half were going to the building site to finish concreting the floors. Just before lunchtime we met to gift the houses to the women and families receiving them.

This was definitely the most emotional moment of the trip. The women were very grateful, in return gifting us some gorgeous fabric to hang on our walls to remember our time in Vanuatu. After this touching moment, we returned to the school for a farewell where we were blessed with some necklaces and a beautiful send-off song from the children. We were then on our way to the accommodation we would be staying at for the next few days. On Friday, we headed to Port Vila where we explored the markets and ate lunch. We then headed off to a lovely beach where we relaxed and swam. That night, we watched a fire show and ate a great dinner before heading back to our accommodation.

We will definitely miss the smiling faces of the children, the delicious fresh fruit, the beautiful countryside, the new-born puppies and kittens, and the hospitality of those in Eaton Village. I speak for all who participated in this trip when I say that it was a life changing event. The real privilege was being able to serve others ‘for even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve,’ Mark 10:43.

Thank you to everyone who made this trip happen and especially to Mr Stead, Miss Standring and Mr Horsnell.


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