During the July holidays a school touring party of 8 students from Years 11 & 12 and 4 teachers travelled to Honiara in the Solomon Islands. The purpose for this inaugural trip to the Solomons was to visit Mercy School and redevelop their playground facilities, visit schools in the neighbouring islands (Soso public school, Nugu) and to immerse themselves in the local culture. The students also visited Matariau village in West Kola where they were warmly welcomed by students from the Sunday school. The boys loved getting a chance to learn a new song and dance with the students, as well as distribute hundreds of pencils and books and stationary donated by the St Edmund’s College community. A visit to Seif Ples Domestic Violence Centre was insightful and the touring party donated over 25 kilos of women’s underwear, clothing and medical supplies as well as cash to support the organisation to continue their amazing work.
Making Donations to Sief Ples Domestic Violence Centre
Some of the tourist highlights that the boys also enjoyed were snorkeling over a WW2 Japanese warship at Mbonege beach, having a guided tour of the USA War Memorial by a former US Marine and exploring the local Art and Craft markets. The boys also put their culinary skills to the test when challenged by the teachers to cook dinner with produce from the Central Market. They did an incredible job whipping up Chilli tuna risotto, banana chips and lime marinated squid. Their knowledge of the variety of bananas and coconuts in the tropics is now vast.
Learning how to open a coconut on Nugu Beach
All of the touring party enjoyed their time travelling throughout the Solomon Islands. They were warmly welcomed by the communities they visited, they contributed to social and educational development through funds and resources and all of the students and staff absorbed and appreciated the amazing culture of the Solomon islands. The St Edmund’s staff praised the students on their incredible work ethic, willingness to engage in every activity and the way in which they approached every person with an open heart and an open mind.
Distributing pencil donations in Marariau Village
Learning a new dance with Marariau Sunday School
The College has had a relationship with Mercy School for a number of years. St Edmund’s College and Mercy School are linked through the Australian- ASIA Education funded BRIDGE program which supports schools from the Solomon Islands partnering with Australian schools to broaden students global knowledge. Last year, Principal Simon Rilaua visited St Edmund’s on exchange. St Edmund’s College teacher, Leigh Southwell, returned to Honiara after living there in 2014/2015 and constructing classrooms at Mercy School with funding from the “Make A Mark Australia” charity. Again the charity contributed funds to the playground redevelopment.
The freshly painted and rebuilt playground equipment at Mercy School, Burns Creek
When the trip came to an end the group was sad to leave the wonderful warmth and welcome of the Hapi Isles and return to chilly Canberra. But many students have vowed that they will return one day and they will definitely be welcomed back with open arms by the new friends that they have made.
Students singing the School Song to the Chiefs of Soso Public School