Confronted by disadvantage, students from The Armidale School found service has rich reward, working with orphans, HIV sufferers and leprosy sufferers overseas during the September/October school holidays.
At St Christopher’s Orphanage in Fiji, 12 boys and a similar number from New England Girls’ School and PLC Armidale re-tiled a hallway and stairwell, made dormitory cupboards, dug up and planted a vegetable garden, bought and installed new mattresses and entertained children, whilst a group from the three schools including four TAS boys volunteered at the Agape AIDS Orphanage and the McKean Rehabilitation Centre for Leprosy sufferers, both near Chiang Mai in Thailand.
“They are so much less fortunate than us, and there were just three Sisters and one other looking after 30 children at St Christopher’s,” said PJ Woodburn. “These children are so happy and have so much less than us, it really made us realise the difference between needs and wants and what true happiness means.”
Meanwhile in Thailand, where his group did manual maintenance work at two institutions and forged bonds with the residents, Thomas Goodfellow said knowing that the children at the Agape Orphanage were not just without family, but had been infected with HIV/AIDS, put much about his own life into perspective.
“We always think about the small things like no wi-fi or not being able to charge our phones, whereas they have nothing yet are so happy,” he said.
“While we were at the McKean Centre I loved helping the older people, many who may not have had arms or legs. I felt so privileged to work with them and it has truly inspired me for life.”
The two service trips are offered annually to TAS students as part of the school’s Leadership, Service and Adventure program.
In the words of Brough Whibley: “The trip to Thailand has significantly changed my outlook on life. The gift of service is surely one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves.”
Click on the photos below for more images from the service trips.