In September 14 Year 11 boys full of anticipation and excitement set off to Papua New Guinea in what was to be a life changing experience.
No one had been to New Guinea before and we weren’t too sure what to expect. When we arrived we saw a country full of life, colour and excitement. As we drove through the congested roads of Port Moresby to make our way to De La Salle in Bomana we were met with endless amounts of waves and people wanting to shake our hands to welcome us to their country.
A few days in to the trip we met our work sites. They were an old classroom that needed to be converted into a Year 12 common room, science labs that needed an endless amount of cupboards cut and fitted and a room that needed three doors installed. We also met the young local boys who provided the group with so much joy, laughter and mateship throughout the trip. As you begin to understand, being in PNG things don’t just happen like that, so we didn’t have any materials at hand and needed to make a trip to the local hardware. A PNG hardware isn’t your ordinary Bunnings or Masters; things were a little bit disorganised and chaotic, with lengthy waiting times!
As tools and materials were gained work flowed and friendships flourished. Boys who were mere acquaintances became close mates and worked together as a team. We saw the best in each other and got the work done in traditional De La Salle style.
A highlight of this trip was going to Ower’s Corner, the start of the Kokoda trail — one of Australia’s most historical war sites. Being there and walking down the steep decline with tough terrain made us appreciate what the young Australians faced all those years ago and the strong relationships we have as Australians with the Papua New Guinean people. A visit to the Bomana War Cemetery compounded this even more with the hundreds of gravestones and the story each one told.
Papua New Guinea is a trip that will stay with us for the rest of our lives. To see the smiles on the local’s faces and how happy they are for what they have is truly a massive eye opener. To see just how much of an impact you can make to someone’s life as a Lasallian is very humbling; one of the young locals said to me “I love when you guys come, you change our lives” — a heart wrenching moment.
This trip wouldn’t have been possible without the commitment of all De La Salle students to fundraising and the dedication of the 13 other Year 11 boys who were lucky enough to be selected to go. A special thanks to staff Tim Hogan, Warren Walker, Phil Dent, Chris Bryan and Christine Thompson who helped us along the way and made this trip something to remember.
This trip was an experience I’ll never forget.