A VERY DIFFERENT ‘SCHOOLIES’ BREAK
At the end of 2013, instead of taking off for the Gold Coast with many of the HSC students for their Schoolies break, 13 Year 12 students from our Good Samaritan schools elected to join Sister Meg Kahler and Monica Dutton from the Mission Team to travel to the Philippines to work in the Good Samaritan Kinder School in Bacolod. The group saw first hand the damage that Cyclone Yolanda brought to the country. They visited two sister schools in Manila which were assisting the victims of the typhoon and heard and saw the tales of the total destruction of the school in Tacloban city. Many of the donations collected before their departure went to some of the most vulnerable communities. The group was in the Philippines for two weeks. They were involved in tutoring groups in a slum area in Manila, participated in an activity day in a mountain village, as well as taking in the sights and sounds of Manila. Most of the time was in Bacolod and the group took Christmas presents for the children at the kindergarten, hosted a Christmas party and helped out in the classrooms. Lily Platts designed several murals, and then with the help of the other students painted them for the school. It was for each and every girl a transformative experience and will stay with them as a time when the gift of compassion was practised in a very practical and inspirational way. What you recognise in such a situation is how much fulfilment and satisfaction you get back out of generosity and helping others. We are very proud of these young women and grateful for their contribution to Good Samaritan Kinder School, Bacolod!
On the 26th of November, when all our friends were away on Schoolies in Byron and the Gold Coast, 13 girls from 5 different Good Samaritan schools headed off with Sr Meg Kahler and Monica Dutton to the Philippines to participate in an alternate Schoolies program. It was to be an eye opening and life changing experience. We started off in Manila where we participated in other girls’ high schools cultural immersion by visiting severely disadvantaged communities to teach English and simple Maths. Seeing the Filipino girls interacting with the younger kids brought home to us the importance of community and care.
We then went to Bacolod City to discover further what it is the Good Samaritan sisters strive to accomplish. We spent the week at a Kinder school developing relationships and creating memorable murals illustrating the works of the Good Samaritan Sisters. The appreciation of the Sisters from the school and the children was evident in the Christmas party we shared on the last night; the kids danced and sang, the teachers performed a musical number and then it was our turn; I’m sure they were ready to get rid of us after that!
The friends and memories we made are once in a lifetime and it was incredible to meet other girls with similar interests to mine. It is an experience none of us will ever forget and it exceeded all expectations. A huge thank you to Sister Meg and Monica for accompanying us and putting up with late nights, long days and 13 overly emotional teenage girls.
Tess Carruthers, St Scholastica’s (2013)
Last November I travelled to the Philippines as part of an alternate schoolies trip for two and a half weeks. It was something I really wanted to do and am so grateful now that I had the opportunity to be a part of this experience.
The trip started in Manilla, which was a culture shock, to say the least! This city was enormous with about 20 million people living there. We visited two Good Samaritan schools, also named St Scholastica’s. One has over 10,000 students from Preschool age to University level, where we participated in their social justice programs. The thing which struck me most about everywhere we went was the abject poverty these people live in and the massive gap between rich and poor.
From here we flew to Bacolod, about 1 hour south of Manilla, where we stayed for the bulk of our trip. We worked most days in a Kinder school run by the Good Sam Sisters. They provided the children with a uniform and daily meal. Without this support the children would not have the chance for an education and the chance to break out of the cycle of poverty. As well as working with the children during this time we also designed and created murals around the school. Decorating their environment is very important culturally in the Philippines, but something that is very expensive. We also did lots of trips around this area including a visit to ‘the Boulevard’, nowhere near as glamorous as the name would suggest. In fact, we went there to see the feeding program set up to ensure the children of the area had a meal daily. It was confronting but the experience was amazing, and the people so appreciative, especially the children who ran after us down the road as we left, waving and calling our names.
We had a great time together as a group and our leaders Sr Meg and Monica were fantastic to travel with. The money we raised will go a long way as the school relies on donations to survive. I think the trip away changed us all in some ways. It certainly makes you look at things from a different angle and keep things in perspective. $50.00 in the Philippines will educate a High School student for a year whereas in Australia it would probably only cover the cost of one text book. I came back with a different perspective and a new appreciation for where I come from and the opportunities I have been given. It gives you an indescribable feeling to be a part of something like this.
I’m so glad I did it.
Lily Platts, St Scholastica’s (2013)