The latest at Glenrowan Study Centre

Thanks to all who took an interest in the Samoa Service Project. A new project for the summer of 2011/2012 is taking shape in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you'd like to get in touch with us, please email Alex at

You can also check out our new Hall of Residence site here

And the main Glenrowan Study Centre website here

Congratulations to volunteers; thanks to donors; Fa'afetai SAMOA!

The Samoa Service Project concluded at the end of January with all volunteers very satisfied that their summer was very well spent.

Tuatagaloa Joe Annandale (back right) with members of the group
We completed the three projects and got through more work than we had imagined.

The church building not only has a new 'priest fort' for the visiting parish priest (complete with bedroom, shower, toilet and basin), but had a brand new coat of paint, some new tiles, a new concrete floor for the sacristy and plenty of other improvements. Jamie Postlewait, working closely with his Samoan counterpart, To'o, along with the team of locals and Anthony Milicich and Nathan Watson, put in some long and arduous hours to break the back of the job. Only some final touches such as connecting the mains and laying the linoleum floor were left for the local men to complete.

Nathaniel, Adrian, John Paul and Fran pose at the playground site
The Playzone playground was successfully installed in the school grounds, under the able leadership of Isaac Fransen. His team of engineers and lawyers firstly had to cut through some heavy duty rock before concreting the pillars in the ground and making sure all was level, with the help of John the local builder. Between Ben Corbett, Adrian D'Souza, Fran Gari, Nathaniel Sue and John Paul Hinojosa, Isaac had an enthusiastic team committed to finishing the job well. Now kids will be coming from all around to use the Poutasi Playground!

Bede, Dylan and Fran with Gori

Bede Mills, foreman of the church project, pushed ahead with his plans and revolutionised the job. The outside of the building was painted in record time and soon the inside was done as well. Assisted by Dylan Cooper, Josh Ioelu, John Gandy, Fr Peter Fitzsimons, Luke Adeney and Eric Suh, he certainly had the numbers and the energy to get it all done. You would never think that a 10m wall of water had been through the church.

We were also very lucky to have a musical get together with Tuatagaloa Joe Annandale, who told us some amazing stories of his life and origins, as well as a moving account of the day of the tsunami in September 2009. Eileen and Claire, the Kiwi ukulele instructors who were volunteering their time to teach a ukulele summer school, were on hand to give us the basics of the ukulele. Luke Adeney, a trained player, entertained us, as well as other musicians such as Josh Ioelu and Tuatagaloa himself.

Thanks to Mike Chun and Play it Strange for the donations of ukuleles to the Ukulele Revolution - from all observations and reports, it was a valuable donation and will continue to be so for the new generation of Samoan musicians.

We have so many people to thank for the awesome experience of spending two and a half weeks in Poutasi. Tuatagaloa Joe Annandale is an amazing host, a generous chief and a wise leader. We are indebted to him for his moral support, his assistance in so many ways and most of all for opening up his home and family to us.

We thank Tuatagaloa's relatives, Pua, Leilua and their sons, for their help and cheerful friendship. We will never forget the spontaneous laughs of Pua and the enthusiastic spirit of the young Leon as he ran out of the house, often without any clothes, yelling threats at us. Thanks as well to Sose Annandale and all the staff at Sinalei Reef Resort and Spa for their support and the use of the resort van for airport trips.

The Catholic parish of Poutasi were our main hosts for the project. We effectively lived side by side with the mothers and families of the parish, who stayed with us, cooked and cleaned and were on hand to provide us with any assistance we needed. Our deep gratitude goes to Konelio and Maria, the catechists, Gori, Julia and all the other ladies who made those exquisite meals, Auseuga, Masella and their family, especially Pauli, Joe, Candy and To'o who provided any tools and materials that were lacking and were a great support in so many ways. We also thank Fr Ponifasio for his guidance earlier in the project and for the new parish priest, Fr Lolesiu, who will be using our new facility - we hope it serves you well.

We also thank the Archbishop of Samoa, Alapati Lui Mataeliga, for his ongoing support of our project.

To our donors in Auckland, without your assistance none of the above would have been possible.

Thanks to Playzone for their generous donation of the playground, pictured below. Paul and Mark Brunton were extremely generous to donate the playground, to construct it in time for shipping, and even made a trip last year to Samoa to speak with Tuatagaloa, map out the site and plan the construction project. Playzone have continued their generous ways, recently committing to donate $200 of every playground sold this month to the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal.

The completed Playzone playground
We also thank John Perrottet of Perrottet Partners for his ongoing sponsorship and consulting for the project, as well as Mr Peter Bendinelli.

We thank other major donors and supporters, including Steeline Industries, David and Nicola Roberts, the David Daily Trust, Francis Pascual, Chris Sit, the Marist Sisters of New Zealand, Richard McLeod, Chris and the team at Bunnings Mt Roskill, Tim White and Mt Albert Plumbing and Gas, O'Briens Plumbing, as well as the Catholic parishes of Christ the King Owairaka, St Dominic's Blockhouse Bay and St Mary's Avondale.

A very special thanks must go to the mother of one of the volunteers. Audrey D'Souza, mother of Adrian, coordinated an extensive fundraising campaign at the parishes above as well as at her work place and neighbourhood and ultimately was responsible for over half the donations made. Thank you very much!!

As the memories still remain of those wonderful days in Poutasi, we have again been recently reminded of the plight of many people, very close to us, who need our help and support. While we are planning a smaller-scale project to assist the people of Christchurch, we can all do something now, such as making a small (or large!) donation, and praying for the victims, their families and all those injured and otherwise affected by the earthquake.

The Samoa Service Project has helped us all to see how fulfilling it can be to give ourselves to others, without the expectation of being paid back. Nevertheless, we were all paid back in so many ways by the amazing people of Samoa, and we are happily indebted to you for that. Until we are lucky enough to visit you and see you again, fa'afetai lava and tofa soifua...

Into the final week

Time has flown by this week, compared to the first week in Samoa. We are cruising through the work and have the roof on top of our building. The septic tank was constructed yesterday and the building received a coat of paint today.

Up at the playground, the slide and monkey bars are connected and there are only a few small things to complete. The playground team went to collect stones today for the perimeter of the playground pit, under the guidance of Tuatagaloa Joe Annandale, a skilled landscaper!

The team on the church has completed a massive paint job, inside and out and today they took to the floor of the sacristy, which had been broken apart by the earthquake. They removed all the broken concrete and will pour a new slab on Monday.

Today John Paul Hinojosa left us for Fiji, where he is joining a group from Sydney's Nairana Study Centre, who are working in Vuake village, in the Yasawa Island group. Tomorrow we will say goodbye to John Gandy, Josh Ioelu and Ben Corbett, who are heading back to Auckland for work.

Meanwhile the rest of the group will be heading early tomorrow morning to Savai'i, to see some of the more remote sites, including some blowholes. We will stay in Manase and chillax for a while after two weeks of heavy work, before returning for our last three days in Samoa.

A few nights ago Tuatagaloa Joe Annandale joined us for a get together after dinner. He talked about the village of Poutasi, his chiefly title and also about that fateful day of the tsunami - 29 September 2009. After a moving account and fielding some questions, Joe whipped out the ukulele and we had a great session with some Samoan songs, some not-so-Samoan songs and a lesson on the ukulele from Clare and Eileen, two teachers from New Zealand who are volunteering their time to teach the village schoolkids, as part of Tuatagaloa's Ukulele Revolution.

We were thinking of all our donors, including Play it Strange, who donated 12 ukuleles for the cause. Hopefully the village children have more skill than some of our volunteers! Nevertheless, there was some musical skill on show from the likes of Josh Ioelu, Luke Adeney and Adrian D'Souza.

This may be the last post from Samoa, as we are heading away for the weekend and then straight back to Poutasi to finish off the work. It has been a wonderful trip with many friends made and lessons learnt, and we can't wait to get back and tell you all about it.

Thanks for reading and until next time, Fa'afetai lava and malo from the Samoa Service Project team!

Work, work, work, rest!

Here we are again!

Work has progressed despite an inordinate level of rainfall over the past week. We are keeping flood-stricken Queensland in mind and it's not hard...

We are half-way through assembling the playground, with concrete being poured today, and we aim to be putting the roof on the toilet and shower block today. The slab was poured a few days ago and the walls have gone up, with window and door frames assembled.

We have been lucky that quite a few locals are helping out with the project. However, foremen Jamie, Isaac and Bede have been leading their teams well. There is quite a rivalry between them, making it a challenge to see who can finish first.

After the first week of work, we headed out on Saturday afternoon to Nu'usafe'e Island, to do some snorkeling and to stay the night. We were quite lucky with the weather but couldn't avoid the rain, so some had a sleepless night by the campfire while others stayed under the tarpaulin set up by our trusty friend Sefu.

The island is covered in hermit crabs, which made a few of us a little apprehensive before bedding down in the sand for the night...

On Sunday we had a big parish Mass with the new parish priest for the Catholic church in Poutasi, and then we drove down the coast past the areas of Saleapaga and Lalomanu to see the tsunami damage. While many houses have been rebuilt and whole villages such as Saleapaga have relocated on higher ground, there are still many fales that have been abandoned on the coast.

We had a snorkel in the beautiful waters and could see the first signs of new life with the discoloured coral showing bright blue tips. We are grateful to Sili Apelu and the staff of Taufua Beach Fales for looking after us on Sunday. The group had a good rest and we have returned to Poutasi for a big week of work!

We are looking forward to some interesting get togethers this week, with a ukulele and guitar night tonight with Tuatagaloa Joe Annandale, who will also come to talk to the group about Poutasi and the tsunami.

Stay tuned - all of us are in good health and good spirits. We are eating local and traditional Samoan cuisine - lots of fruit and vegetables such as taro. Lots of locally-caught fish and the good old pancakes for dessert!


Samoa Service Project Team

Arrival in Paradise

Sorry we have been out of touch!

Living in a village in Samoa certainly has its advantages but internet access is not one of them!

We arrived safely in Samoa and made our way straight to Poutasi village in Falealili district. We were welcomed with a traditional kava ceremony by the villagers and in particular, the Catholic parish of the Immaculate Conception, who are hosting us in the parish's fale, which has been recently built right on the coast.

We set up our sleeping mats and mosquito nets and we have experienced the true cultural style of living in a fale enjoying the breezes through the open sides and front of the fale.

On the first morning we had a real awakening - literally 3 metres from the fale hangs a steel gas bottle which is used as a bell to call people to the church events such as Mass. Having Mass at 7am meant that the gas bottle was hit at no later than 5:45am. You can imagine the reactions...

By now we are used to the loud ringing in the morning, now at 6am, but it's not something we intend to introduce back home. In fact a few of us have hatched a plan to cut it down and bury it one night, or just throw it into the sea!

We set to work straight away, although a slight delay on the release of our container meant that we didn't have the goods cleared until a few days' into the work. We had almost the full group riding on the back of a 10-tonne truck with all our materials, through Apia, which definitely turned some heads. 'Palangi' as we are affectionately called here, are normally seen at resorts and restaurants with cameras and flowery shirts, not with gloves on and riding on the back of a truck in the pouring rain!

Stay tuned for more!

SSP about to kick-off, as we reach our fundraising goal!

The volunteers are hours away from stepping on a plane for Samoa, and the excitement is building for an amazing experience.

We have been boosted in the last few days with the news that our fundraising goal has been reached! We have tipped over the $10,000 total that we set out to achieve and all contributors, volunteers and fundraisers have a deep sense of relief and satisfaction.

Special thank you must go to Audrey D'Souza, mother of Adrian, one of the project volunteers. Adrian returned from his trip to Australia with donations from friends and relatives which helped us finally reach the goal.

Another debt of gratitude is owed to volunteer Marcus Roberts. Marcus had an unfortunate illness recently which has prevented him from coming on the trip. Thankfully he is recovering well, although he is greatly disappointed that he cannot join us, and so are we. As a sign of his enthusiasm for the project and his generosity, he has donated his flight cost and volunteer fee to the project, which has also helped us achieve the goal. Thanks Marcus - we will endeavour to update this site often enough that you feel right there with us!

Watch this space over the next two to three weeks!

Preparations entering final weeks

The Samoa Service Project has been slowly gaining momentum over the months and now the real action is upon us!

The group of volunteers have just returned from a weekend away in Port Waikato to meet, plan and get excited for what promises to be an amazing experience.

Since our first donors, REHD and Playzone, chipped in with a major boost by donating playground equipment for the school in Poutasi, many others have joined in as well.

Steeline Industries have given a major donation, as well as David and Nicola Roberts. Others individual donors have also been very generous in assisting our efforts, and we thank Audrey D'Souza for her tireless efforts among her friends and contacts, especially in the parishes of St Dominics, Christ the King and St Marys Avondale.

Recently, Mike Chun from Play it Strange donated 12 ukuleles, to assist Tuatagaloa Joe Annandale's Ukulele Revolution. Tuatagaloa already has a group of keen children to learn, as well as international ukulele teachers who will be visiting over the summer. So it was great that Play it Strange could help out and provide some of the ukes for the project, and we are all very thankful to Mike and the team.

Now our focus has turned to hardware materials, and we would be grateful if any hardware stores could chip in and help us to collect all the requirements for our building project. We have a shipping container waiting to be filled with hardware materials, so please be generous!

Finally, if you are in Auckland on Sunday 12 December, you might like to come along to our Samoa Benefit Showcase, which is aimed at raising funds and for our project. There will be a whole host of local musical and comic talent on show and will be a great night out. It will be held at St Peter's College Hall in Epsom from 6-8:30pm. $10 at the door.

Stay tuned as we update this site over the next month and also during our trip to Samoa in January.

And if you know anyone who can help, you can see that our fundraising thermometer needs a little more red to get into the black!
Donate to the Project:
We are currently looking for donors to the project. We are grateful for all types of donations, and all sizes. Please read the project description to see where you could possibly help out.

All donations go to Education Sponsorship Trust for the use of the project and all monetary donations are tax deductible.

Early on 29 September 2009 an 8.1 magnitude earthquake struck the ocean floor to the south of Samoa. The result was a huge tsunami that wreaked havoc on Samoa, Tonga, American Samoa and other small islands.

The worst affected place in Samoa was Lalomanu on the South East coast, which experienced 9-10m  crushing waves. Further west, in Poutasi, nine people died and many lost their homes, belongings and livelihoods.

The tsunami left 3000 people homeless and caused an estimated US$147 million damage in Samoa alone. A lot of cleaning up and rebuilding has taken place, but there is still much to be done, long after the reporters and the international aid organisations have moved on.

Our aim is to spend two and a half weeks living in Poutasi and working with locals on some much-needed refurbishment that would otherwise not occur for years, if not for our efforts both in fundraising and manual labour.