Eli Hill

A group of Makoura College students are headed to Samoa to help out a refuge for children and women exposed to domestic violence.

The group of 21 Makoura College students, five adults and a child will be in Samoa from December 6 to 15 and will spend at least three days helping out the Campus of Hope refuge.

And they won’t be going empty handed – the students are taking along 57 schoolbags filled with stationery, thanks to the generosity of the Wairarapa community and a post on the Doing a good Deed page on Facebook.

Wairarapa Care Network manager and Doing a good Deed page administrator Elaine Leggott was contacted by a parent to see if she could put up a post asking for a few stationary items.

By her own admission she couldn’t stop at “just a few”.

“My dream was five and then it went pretty fast, we aimed for 30 and now we have 57.

“The community did a great job contributing them. Someone would donate a bag, then someone else [would donate] the stationery – it was a real community effort.”

“Kay Halligan did a great job collecting in Carterton and Maree Hutchby, as well, who stored them at her place.”

The Samoan Church, the community, and Wairarapa Care Network clients all pitched in for the backpacks.

Also raised was $203 to go towards purchasing concrete for the refuge.

The school had been “pretty blown away” by the donations from the community, Makoura College deputy principal Kellas Bennett said.

“How will we get over there with these packs, in our carry-on luggage? “We’ll figure that out when we get there,” he joked when thanking the Wairarapa Care Network.

“It’s huge, we didn’t want to do another sports or cultural exchange. We wanted to do some good.

“So we’re really looking forward to this opportunity to work with these young people over there.

“We will be with them for a couple of days doing work for them – painting, concreting, whatever needs to be done.”

Bennett is hoping that the experience will make his students better people.

“People say how do we break the cycle of domestic violence.

“I firmly believe we can talk about it all we like, show images all we like, but these [students] are going to be exposed to these kids who have been through this trauma, and hopefully that’ll make them better people,
better adults.”