Tish and Mike went to Samoa
to help with the

The Great Samoan Volunteer Trip 
14 - 29 Sept 2012

-- Helping make a difference to vulnerable children in Samoa --

Thank you very much

for helping make a HUGE difference
to vulnerable children in Samoa.

Samoa Observer newspaper article

Tish Kirkland and Mike Ross were part of a core team of 9 volunteers who gave their time and skills to renovating a home (shelter) in Samoa for children who have been removed from their own homes due to abuse. Many of these children are homeless because they are waiting for their court cases against family or village members to be heard, and in the interim their homes or villages are not safe for them.

Victim Support Group (SVSG) provides a safe place for these children, each shelter with 1 - 2 matrons to care for the children and young adults who live there. There are now three shelters for these children, one for the under-12s, one for the 12 - 22 year olds, and one for girls who are pregnant due to rape.

Tish, Mike, and the other volunteers made the shelter for pregnant girls suitable for habitation. Previously, the building was physically unsafe as the floors had rotted through in many places and the plumbing and electrical wiring was old, worn, exposed, and dangerous.

As a builder, Mike was able to provide supervision and advice to our team of volunteers, who focussed mainly on stripping paint, repainting all the internal walls, as well as working with the children to create a mural for the wall.  In addition to this, and with help from a local Samoan builder and a carpenter from NZ, Mike laid down all new floors in the kitchen, bathroom, and toilet.

Tish, along with scraping paint and sewing curtains, taught some English and art classes at the children's specially-created school as a guest teacher with three of the other volunteers. There were a lot of challenges, one of the main ones being that there is no hardware warehouse such as "Bunnings" in Samoa, and some products are either difficult to source, impossible to source, low quality, or just very expensive.

We were very lucky in that a container had arrived on time from NZ with many donated items. We used what we could and then donated the remainder to the wonderful local builder who helped us.

Our volunteer trip was organised by a NZ organisation called Spinning Top, working in conjunction with SVSG. Tish and Mike took time off work paid all expenses of the trip themselves, with help from donations by family and friends.

We felt very welcomed by everyone in Samoa and in particular from the wonderful workers, both volunteer and paid, who are associated with SVSG. We couldn't have done it without you and we thank you for your time, patience, energy, and effort. Fa'afetai.

More photos are available on Mike's facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/michael.ross.builders and Tish's facebook page http://www.facebook.com/englishtutor.brisbane.