Building life-long Bonds with Villagers in Vanuatu – STORMCo 2016

Macquarie College students are building life-long bonds with local villagers in Vanuatu, giving back to the island community through their annual service program.
Forty students depart Newcastle on 9th November 2016, the next generation of Year 12 school-leavers swapping traditional year-end celebrations for enrichment initiatives in the Olwi Village, Vanuatu.

STORMCo (Service To Others Really Matters Company) is a program deeply embedded in the culture of the Macquarie College Senior School after just eight years in place. It is a life-changing experience for students, resulting in new Year 7 students looking forward to their own international travel adventure, supporting a remote community and experiencing a lifestyle as their brothers and sisters have done before them.

Students will immerse themselves in the local village, for some it will be their first time overseas. With only basic amenities, this first-hand experience of a humble village existence awaits them. As too does hard work.

The purpose of this year’s trip is to support the Olwi Village with building projects including tiling, painting, fixing ceilings and constructing drainage to collect water at the local Primary School. These works will improve the teaching and learning environment for students who are constantly faced with extreme weather conditions in the region, many of whom are still recovering from the catastrophic impact of Tropical Cyclone Pam which battered the island of Port Vila in March, 2015.

Among the physical tasks there is also time for reflection. Students will embrace the culture and learn from their hosts, they will spend time reading, playing and performing with local students during which time bonds will be formed as they realise the value of service to others and living in the moment.

The Year 12 Class of 2016 departs Macquarie College on Wednesday 9th November after almost 12 months committed to fundraising activities aimed at purchasing building supplies and education resources for their time in Olwi Village. While paying for their own flights and their accommodation in Vanuatu at the end of the service trip, students turned their minds to a comprehensive fundraising campaign throughout 2016 which featured hosting stalls and guessing competitions at the recent Spring Fair, an auction, and everyone’s favourite chocolate boxes.

There is also an active GoFundMe page for this trip, with donations sought direct from the community which will help students to reach their online fundraising target of $5,000. STORMCo trip coordinator, Mr Aaron Williams, is proud of the Year 12 cohort which has committed to the trip, to fundraising and to the opportunity of experiencing global citizenship. During 2016, students have been challenged in their thinking about the value of sharing small acts of support and kindness. This trip will see many small, individual acts accumulate to make a significant difference to this remote island community.  

Click Here to visit the group’s GoFundMe page.

“In 2009, we inspired 19 brave students to go beyond their comfort zones and make a commitment to helping others with tangible resources and also compassion. We are now in the final stages of preparations for 40 students and seven staff to continue the tradition in 2016,” Williams said.

“So far, fundraising efforts have generated $12,000.00, but our final online fundraising target of $5,000 via GoFundMe is yet to be achieved. We would certainly appreciate support from individuals across the Hunter who may like to make a small donation. This act of kindness will go a long way. We are cannot wait to get started on the building works promised to the Olwi villagers.”

“Local businesses Honeysuckle Dental and KH Account Solutions have both donated $1,000 each to our campaign and we are truly grateful for this level of support, which will purchase valuable building supplies for the project.”

“While this service trip is focused on village life and making a lasting contribution, we will also take time to celebrate the end of Year 12 in a safe and positive environment while staying in Vanuatu. On return to Newcastle on 16th November, the next phase of our students’ lives will begin as they seek out employment, study or community-oriented roles and make their own way in society.”

Details of trip
• Departing the College: Wednesday 9th November, 2.00pm from Macquarie College
• Returning to the College: Wednesday 16th November
• Tour Organiser: Mr Aaron Williams, 4954 6222
• Students on Tour: 40
• Accompanying Staff: 7