Team Report by Jason Buchholz
This trip we had Robin Jones (3rd Trip), Stephanie Wallace (2nd trip), Jim Flanagan (2nd trip), Jen Salas (2nd trip), Leanne and Jason Buchholz (lost count) come to Shepherds Arms Children's Home.
We arrived on the 3rd of April and had fairly solid rain until the 5th of April. We have not had solid rain all day on any of the previous trips so it was something new. Demetrio picked us up from the Airport and we went straight to the Hardware store to get supplies. 3 hours later we got to the Home and were greeted by the usual suspects that seem to be 'too-sick-to-go-to-school' when they know we are arriving. It was great to have them there to greet us. The home has continued to move forward since the last trip (a big thank you to sponsors for continued support). I can not praise the staff enough. They treat the children as their own, and work so well together to improve the resources and facilities available to the children.
Stephanie and Leanne quickly liaised with Gilda (manager of the home) to work out if it would be ok to paint a mural on one of the walls at the home. The Plan was to use an exterior wall and have the children paint, with Stephanie providing supervision. Because of the rain, it was suggested that an interior wall be used instead, so plans were made and an under coat put on the wall in preparation.
The following morning, rain continued to fall, so Stephanie and a large group of children started outlining the Mural. Jason and Robin waited for the steel to arrive, which arrived earlier then expected. Once it arrived, steel was cut and Robin started to weld the brackets to hold the roof that would cover the planned washing up/ hand washing station. Four trundle beds were also constructed so every child now has a bed with a mattress.
The following day the children started to paint the clothes and outfits on each of the outlines on the wall, supervised and assisted by Stephanie. Jim and Jen arrived before lunch, having missed their flight the day before. This is common practice in the Philippines (having done it myself). The guys assembled the roof whilst there was a break in the rain. Plans were made on the best ways to achieve the rest of the projects and a trip to town was planned. The rain had stopped finally so some running repairs were done to one of the smaller rain water tanks so the over flow would not continue to wash out the pathways along the back of the main building. A new overflow pipe was fitted and holes sealed to ensure all excess water flowed out of the overflow pipe. Jim and Jen went to town and purchased some bean bags and pillows and floor lounge type supplies to create a reading nook and chill out area for the kids. They also purchased sports equipment and two brand new push bikes! When they got back, all the children were home from school and the new belongings were an instant hit. The building supplies just didn't have the same impact.
The next day Jim started by teaching the boys home from school how to use the pressure cleaner (purchased on a previous trip) to clean the steps and outside concrete as the mould had made the external concrete quite slippery. Robin continued welding the frame for the hand wash basin. Jason started building the first set of lockers for one of the boys' rooms, with the help of some of the older boys. The boys took over after being shown what to do and did a fantastic job. Later on in the week, the boys built their own second set of lockers with only general supervisor supplied.
On the Saturday Robin Jones went to a number of graduation ceremonies as a representative of Rotary as the Rotary Club of Balwyn had donated funds to have a concrete floor laid and school supplies purchased for the SAF Change of Community program. Work continued back at the home. The whole team was thrilled that afternoon when the refurbished old jeepney arrived back at the home. Thanks to funds from Gladstone Rotaract, it had been totally remodelled inside and out. Now it's not only mechanically safe, but looks great too.
Sunday had Church held at the home, with numbers growing every time we attend. Lunch was shared with the children and games played for the rest of the day.
Having only a few days left saw every team member working on different projects, usually with enthusiastic helpers keen to help in anyway they could. Just like every other trip everything just seemed to progress quickly with the following projects all getting finished by the Wednesday morning.
Boys dorm room peeling paint on the walls stripped and repainted
Two sets of 4 lockers built and painted and installed in the repainted room (room houses 8 boys)
New Carport built to house the 2 refurbished Bus/Jeepneys
Materials purchased and left on site to pour a reinforced concrete slab for the Carport
New hand washing station constructed from steel frame and tiled surfaces
Roof built over the hand washing area
Concrete poured to allow children to stay out of mud whilst washing hands or plates.
Paths repaired and resurfaced around the main building
Mural painted by all children along one of the walls inside the main area
4 beds built and mattresses purchased for the smaller children
Chill out area equipped
Two bicycles purchased to enable children to learn to ride and have fun (Thanks Jim and Jen)
External concrete areas all cleaned
Handrails on front and rear stairs repainted with left over mural paint (very bright)
Small rain water tank piping repaired
Some TONKA trucks were brought over for the small boys the play with (Thanks Leanne)
Backboard of Basketball hoop repeated and remarked
Cooking / icing treats with the kids (Huge hit)
50 new chickens purchased to fill new chicken coup, with enough food for six months
Supplied thousands of various seeds for the gardens at the Home and the extended community
Hours of games played and books read
Hours of invaluable English language practice
Hours of training in welding and basic building practices for anyone interested in helping (Painting, tiling, welding, carpentry, concreting, plumbing) The improvement in skills the older boys are showing is exceptional. They were keen to build themselves, and only required basic supervision to achieve excellent results. These skill sets just did not exist a few years ago.
Thank you to HPI for enabling all of these projects to happen and for the continued support for the home and its operation. Thank you also to the Rotary Club of Balwyn for their support of the Changing the Community program and Gladstone Rotaract for the jeepney refurbishment.