On Sunday the 7th of July, 24 students and 8 adults embarked upon the Aquinas College Annual Fiji Service Trip. The departure marked the end of 9 months of preparation, organisation and fundraising, and the beginning of an incredible, life changing experience for all involved.
The Aquinas College Annual Fiji Service Trip is an annual 10-day trip undertaken by Aquinas College Year 13 students, teachers and parents. The group travels to Vanuakula, a small Fijian village located an hour’s drive inland from Suva. This year, the services to the village included the building of 4 shower blocks, an outdoor kitchen area, concrete paving within the village, the setup of a library space, repairs to the village water piping system and the painting of various village buildings.
The shower blocks allow the villagers, particularly the women, the opportunity to shower in privacy. This enables them to shower during the day, as before they had to wash using village taps in the dark of night. The outdoor kitchen provides the women of the village an improved space in which to prepare the food for the 158 children attending school in Vanuakula, and was greatly appreciated by the women of the village. Our repairs to the village water system (which was damaged during a cyclone last summer) improved the villager’s access to clean water, a necessity that was often unobtainable using the old piping. Lastly, we painted several school buildings, leaving a mural as a symbol of the love and friendship between the two communities.
The Fiji Service Trip is an incredibly unique and rewarding experience. The trip allows students to not only help a community in serious need, but to experience the beautiful culture and form lasting relationships with the children, women, men and elders within the village. Before setting off, we thought we were just going to give our time and service to the village. It’s only upon completion that we realise just how much the village gave back to us. It’s no exaggeration that the people of Vanuakula and of Fiji are among the friendliest, loveliest people you will ever meet. These people, with their smiles, stories and thanks, are the reason that every year students return admitting that Fiji was the most incredible experience of their lives. To future year 13’s with the chance to apply for Fiji Service Trip, do it. You won’t regret it!
The Fiji Service Trip wouldn’t be possible without the work and commitment of Paul Callinan, who organises the trip year after year. We can’t thank Paul enough, along with Mrs Skelton, Mrs Guise, Mr Smith, Jason Yorke and the parents who attended the trip, making the trip possible this year. Your time, effort, skills and stories are very much appreciated.
It really was a life changing experience for us all.