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Peter Smith and Steve Ritchie on PNG volunteering: "ready to go back tomorrow!"

Posted by Jordan Grantham on 12 November 2018
Peter Smith and Steve Ritchie on PNG volunteering: "ready to go back tomorrow!"

It was with much anticipation that we returned to La Salle Tech Hohola. We were looking forward to catching up with the Brothers, teaching staff and some of the students who we taught last year.

To live in community with and to work alongside a dedicated group of Brothers is an inspiring and uplifting experience. They clearly make a tangible and real difference in the lives of the students in so many ways. To have the opportunity to join them in their work makes us proud to be part of the Lasallian family.

It feels like home though a bit hotter and more humid.

We are very grateful to have been allowed to participate in the twinning program with PNG 2018 and to return this year.
We were both in PNG in 2017.

There have been some change since our last visit. There is a new Principal and Deputy Principal, some staffing changes and the gardens have grown even more beautiful (thanks mainly to Br Jack).

The students were just as welcoming and delightful as on previous visits.

I taught Maths to Year 9 and 10 students and some computing to Year 11 and Steve taught science.

The class numbers are large by comparison to NZ class numbers, sometimes 40 per class. The students are really keen and eager to learn, and at my after school Maths class there were thirty plus students.

We really enjoyed our classes. The students have such a happy and positive disposition. For some classes, Peter had time to teach some Maori Waiata.(Some students performed the song at a special assembly and it was beautiful.

As well as teaching, we were able to do a little bit of work on one of the containers that is being converted into housing for teachers.
Under Steve's instruction I learned how to make and fit window surrounds.

Helping provide teacher housing would be of great benefit to the school. Being able to offer houses would help attract more suitable teachers which in turn benefits the students. I think that teacher housing is an area we could offer further support.

We also saw first hand the great work being done by the Lasallian Volunteers in running the "breakfast club".
The breakfast club provides over 200 meals for students who otherwise would have very little to eat. The meals are basic and funds limited. Again this is another area that we could support. Steve and I have come back ready to help achieve that support.

One of the highlights this year was the school's Cultural Festival. This is a festival where groups of students from each of the provinces of PNG display their provincial dance and intricate costumes. Each group had a King and Queen who described an element of their costume in English. Steve and I were invited to help judge the speech of the "Kings and Queens". We had front row seats for the day long festival.
What a spectacular event!

Steve and I were asked this week if we'd go back again. Both responded, "Of course, we're ready to go back tomorrow!" 
For us, being at La Salle Tech, was an experience which we will always cherish.

This opportunity would not have occurred without the help of many.
Many thanks to the NZMAC, Sir Br Pat Lynch, Kane Raukura and our Principal Martin Chamberlain for enabling and supporting the program once again.

Many thanks also to the Brothers community in PNG, for being superb hosts, welcoming us into the community and going out of their way to help when needed.


Live Jesus in our hearts,
Peter Smith and Steve Ritchie

Author: Jordan Grantham
About: Communications Manager, Lasallian Mission Council, DLS District of ANZPPNG.
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