When Gerringong’s Matt Philpott, Paul Berry and Marty Richardson went surfing to Kavieng Provence in PNG with some mates from Berry to celebrate some 50ths, they had no idea they would come back with a mission.
While enjoying the waves, the men dropped into Namatanai Secondary School to give some stationery and footballs they had put in their bags.
“What we saw blew us away,” says Marty Ricardson. “700 students, 500 of whom board at the school, were living in sub-standard conditions while attempting to complete their equivalent of the HSC.
“Without running water, electricity or adequate amenities, and an empty library, it was obvious these kids needed some help.”
Upon their return the men spoke of their experience and were overwhelmed with the response from their own community.
Rainwater tanks were donated by Bennett Environmental and Total Eden; Outdoors and Beyond gave a food cooler; Bell’s Sewing gave several sewing machines; Reece Plumbing gave hardware supplies; Gerringong Hardware gave power tools; builder Kye Furlong of Salt Box donated a class set of claw hammers; and Green Cube Storage donated three storage units to keep it all in.
“The ‘wish list’ from the school grew smaller and smaller as people brought in generators, chain saws, class sets of hammers and saws, musical instruments and science equipment,” says Marty.
The students of Kiama High (and the School itself) donated a mountain of text books, a number of musical instruments (guitars, brass, keyboards), science microscopes and equipment, with a teacher donating a generator. Other high schools in the region also enthusiastically helped the cause, as have many Gerringong and Kiama locals.
“The school has been amazed by the effort from NSW South Coast locals. They send their thanks to all involved,” says Marty.