Earlier this year, one of MAMA’s Directors, Leigh Southwell, coordinated a visit by eight students and four staff from St Edmund’s College, Canberra, to Honiara in the Solomon Islands to spend ten days immersing themselves in Solomon culture and contributing time and funds to local communities. They also planned to spend a large part of their trip refurbishing and expanding the Mercy School playground built in 2015 with funds from MAMA. With another generous donation from MAMA the touring party headed off excited to contribute once again to the students and staff of Mercy School in Burn’s Creek, Honiara.
The students and teachers worked hard to refurbish the playground which was suffering the effects of tropical weather and overuse from over 1000 students. MAMA funds went towards purchasing timber, hardware, second hand tyres and litres of paint and then the group got to work. In the searing tropical heat and humidity the students did themselves proud by working tirelessly to bring the playground back to life. They repaired timberwork, repainted the entire playground, dug through hard clay ground to bury tyres to construct new climbing areas for the Early Childhood students, built soccer goals and constructed the school’s first tyre swings. Despite the hot and sweaty conditions, occasional rainstorms and countless blisters, the students felt a surge of pride and accomplishment when they saw the smiles on the faces of the children playing on this new equipment.
The paint that the MAMA funds purchased also contributed to completely changing the face of the school. The students and teachers, with help from eager local students, painted colourful murals on the walls of the classrooms and brightened the learning environment for all staff and students of Mercy School. After the first day of painting there was already talk amongst the community about the bright, colourful and positive impact that this paintjob had on the buildings. Even after our touring party returned to Canberra the staff and students of Mercy school continued the amazing painting work by using the remaining paint to complete the revamp of the school exterior and were so thankful to MAMA for supplying this paint.
Yet again the support from MAMA has made a tangible and powerful impact on the learning environment for countless children in Burn’s Creek. The effects of play during childhood are well documented and the impact that the St Edmund’s students were able to make with the support from MAMA on the playground for Mercy School will have a positive impact on the Mercy School community for years to come.