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LATEST: June 2011

Steve and his family are heading back to Samoa in July for a follow-up visit. They are looking forward to spending some time in Satitoa and Saleamua, and catching up with how things are going with the preschools and in the villages.

Steve's sons Phoenix and Jetson (aged 8 and 6) are raising money to buy equipment for the preschools to take over with them on their trip. "We think we could raise $150. We would like to take some wooden blocks and some dress-ups." Find out how they are raising the funds and how you can support them here.

August 4th 2010

Hello again our fine friends,

As you can tell buy the date we are back in New Zealand, but it’s not that simple.

When we last blogged we had just finished the first of two preschools and were in Apia for one night for supplies and to get onto the internet, thanks to connections of Keneti’s at the Samoan Observer (Samoa’s major news print, in which we may have been mentioned) anyway, we got what we needed (rest and all) and made our way down to Saleamua, again in the Alepata district about 1-2km down the road from Satitoa.

Unfortunately arriving a little late, we were greeted by our new host Pastor Pati and family, seated while we watched our hosting family unwrap and re-invigorate our waiting meal, felt a bit stink for keeping them waiting.

It was late on Sunday and we had just had a really hard week prior, we were fatigued and we knew what we were about to get into the next morning. It seemed timely that we should change our motivation and the way we would go about the build. This time we would go for speed and try to enjoy ourselves as much as possible while counting down the day to be reunited with our families, friends and our beds.

On day one in Saleamua we managed to get all the walls and the trusses fabricated and up, it was pretty impressive.

Day two began and ended with gable ends, outriggers fly rafters, perlins, bracing, some cladding, pouring the slab for the lean-to, some barges and half a roof.

Day three finished roofing, flashings, cladding, building the lean-to, internal linings

Day four ended at about 2pm. We had it nailed.

There was work going on around the whole site pretty much all the time and much of that effort is not itemised above so as not to have too much trade speak, but I would like to say that it didn’t go unrecognised, the whole thing was a huge effort from everyone. And again, we had excellent, willing, capable and friendly help from the men at Saleamua - we could not have done it without them!

The trip was amazing and we can’t give enough thanks all those who gave, and to our family’s for supporting us. It was hard but I think I speak for everyone when I say I’d do it again, and we may just have that opportunity.

All your kind donations were well spent and the trip was in every regard a success, both the villages now have functioning preschools that adequately fulfil current requirement, are vastly superior to their predecessors and can easily be modified for the communities changing needs.

A final note to our host villages representing the people of Samoa:

We see you are resilient, resourceful, full of faith and good will. What we observe is that you inspire us to be thankful, courteous, honourable and gracious, things anyone can be rich in by choice.

Thank you.
Dan, Simon, Carl, Logan and Steve

July 23rd
Mission Compete!! Both preschools are now fully completed! Saleaumua was finished in three and a half days! Today the team are making their way back to Apia to sort their gear for the flight home tonight.

July 22nd
The boys are well underway in Saleaumua. The preschool should be completed by tomorrow afternoon. The whole team has been working extremely hard to get this second project finished, and with the help of the locals the project has progressed without any hitches.

Sorry there wont be any photos until the guys get back to NZ, they've tried a number of times to get images sent back but with no luck - you'll have to drop by here early next week to check them out.

Donations are still coming in! Thank you so much for your continuing support!

POSTED BY JO (Steve's wife)

July 19th
Apologies for our lack of communication so far, our first and second effort to get onto the Internet where both unsuccessful. Thanks to Jo there has been some postings for you to read, but we are here now.

On Friday the 9th of July we loaded up the work van with as many tools as we could take and as few personal items as we could get away with needing and headed off for Auckland. After an uncomfortable but enjoyable road trip we made it to the Airport and where ready to board our flight.

We got off the plane in Samoa just after midnight Samoan time and had no choice but to quickly adjust to a much more peaceful pace. Duty free was closed but we asked and the opened it up for us, customs stopped us to check out these 5 dodgy looking guys -as you would expect- and checked out our gear, we were told that we needed a permit to bring in the volume of toothpaste we had (a recommended gift for our hosts) and that all our tools needed to be steam cleaned. After a short conversation about why we were here we were allowed to go through.

The hire car we had booked was not going to be available for us till the next day so we took a taxi to the accommodation, our driver (Junior) introduced us all for the first time to driving in Samoa which was probably good to see before any of us got behind the wheel. As it turns out all of this makes perfect sense but I won't try to explain why, you would have to spend a bit of time here to find out why.

We have a much bigger story to be told about our time, experiences, and observations here in Samoa but we'll save that for a final entry and get on with some detail.

We stayed in Apia for Saturday and Saturday night where we gathered supplies, acclimatised and met up with the project manager Ted and his wife Ve'a. While being a valuable practical time we were all keen to get to work on giving the gift we have been graced with giving. Sunday came and we headed off from Apia for Satitoa, made it, met our amazing hosts and settled in ready for a Monday start.

We had a sweaty and productive first week.

On day one we had the slab marked out, had gone through the complicated task of unloading half the container, prefabricated and erected the external walls and began to put the trusses together.

Day two we had all the trusses and one gable end up, braced the roof and put the internal walls in.

Day three was for fly rafters, out riggers, barges, some purlins, nogging, hardware, some cladding and pored the lean to slab.

Day four the roofing went on, some flashings, more cladding, lean-to framing and some finishing.

Day five -our last day on preschool number one- we finished it off, roofing, flashing, lining, cladding, facing boards, doors in, big clean up and vailima's (the local beer) for everyone. If there is any thing left to do -and there is- it is in the perfectly capable hands of our friends and helpers (back line as Afa'ese calls them) here in Satitoa.

As much as any of the boys here may have learnt some skills from us, we have been honored to have them helping and show us the lengths a person can go to to honorably receive a gift, in this case a preschool.

It is traditional to host your guests so graciously that when they leave they have only good things to say about you, your family, your village and Samoa. In this regard Afa'ese, Satelite, their children, and the members of their community he gathers around him have been outstanding. We were told that it is a saying that it is easy to say Talofa (hello) but hard to say Tofa (good buy), and we feel the same way to our hosts.

So we would like to say a big thank you to Tuputupu-A'e education trust for guiding us into such a loving community with such gracious hosts. A big thank you also to our extended crew Afa'ese (pastor), Leota, Toga and our back line, Tasi, Anetelu, Alofa, Davi, Fiti, Iutana, Ford and Etuale, with out these good men we would not have finished.

Special thoughts to Davi who had to leave us early to take and be with his son in hospital in Apia.

Off now to Saleaumua for number two.


July 17th
Satitoa Village Preschool will be finished today! There is a celebration this afternoon with a traditional Samoan BBQ - the boys are wondering if the pig that wanders around in the yard is going to end up on a spit!

Work at Saleaumua Preschool begins Monday.

POSTED BY JO (Steve's wife)

July 16th
It has really started to hit home the impact the tsunami has had on the people in the villages. Steve was saying last night that the government gave each family $18,000(tala) to build a new fale. Fale's cost approx $25,000(tala) to build, so family's have joined together and are now living under one roof.

There is no aid available to help rebuild their livelihoods though - fishermen lost nets and boats, builders lost tools... so many things that we don't think about. The guys have decided to leave some of their tools in Samoa, and when they get back they want to raise more funds to send fishing nets and more tools back to the village so the locals can start earning again.

They went over to the Resort in the next village last night for dinner and to see if they could use the internet to upload photos. The phone lines are yet to be replaced so there was no internet available, we'll have to wait until someone goes into Apia to get some pictures.

And the build? The Satitoa Preschool is continuing to go really well, the only thing holding them back is the heat (even the locals are saying it's hot!) so today they were going to try out a roster system so they could all get a chance to cool down throughout the day.

Oh, and we are still receiving donations! thanks so much everyone for all your support : )

POSTED BY JO (Steve's wife)

July 13th
The team arrived in Satitoa yesterday.

They have been blown away by the hospitality of the locals and have been welcomed into the village with open arms. They are staying at the local Minister's home and spent the first afternoon meeting everyone and playing with the children - (those of you who know Simon will know that he was in his element!). They have made good use of the footballs and rugby balls that the guys took over with them.

Steve described the stories they are hearing about the Tsunami as "terrifying". He says that what we witnessed on television was only a tiny glimpse into what it was actually like. He said that seeing the devastation with his own eyes really hit home to him the value of them being there. People are still heavily affected by it, and still find it difficult to talk about.

Work started on the site today, with the help of some local men, the team unpacked the container and assembled the frames and trusses... the frames are in place and the trusses will go up tomorrow. The first day went really smoothly and this first preschool should be finished within a week.

Hopefully the guys will get a chance to email through photos tomorrow, so come back then to check them out.

Thanks for stopping by : )

POSTED BY JO (Steve's wife)

July 10th:
Nothing like a bit of snow to get you ready for a tropical island!! Below are pics taken on the road trip up to Hamilton yesterday.

I talked to Steve this morning, he'd been up since 5.30am getting all his paper work finalised for the jobs that they have been working on in Wellington. They were all looking forward to heading up to Auckland to fly out tonight.

The boys want to say a huge thank you to the clients who were prepared to let their jobs go unfinished so that they could do this Samoa project, without your understanding and patience this trip would not be possible - thank you!

POSTED BY JO (Steve's wife)

July 9th:
The Boys are off!! The road trip begins today as the guys head up to Hamilton for the night (thanks Ma and Pa King!!) and then up to Auckland on Saturday to fly out Saturday night. Everyone's really excited and they are all looking forward to some sunshine!

POSTED BY JO (Steve's wife)

July 7th:
We have our first aid kits sorted, we have a tonne of insect repellent - AND.... we have exceeded our $15,500 target!! Thank you so much for all your support!!

July 5th:
We had our tool weigh in today - all is looking good - thanks to Coffee Supreme for letting us use their big-time scales.

June 30th:
Only a few days to go now! We are so close to reaching our financial goal! Only $800 to go! Any money we don't use will be donated straight back to the Trust to help build the playgrounds at the preschools (they are still raising money to get these in place).

June 29th:
We've just heard from Vodafone; we may have trouble uploading images while we are in Satitoa and Saleaaumua, we might have to make a couple of special trips into Apia to keep everyone updated - we'll see how we go when we get there.

June 23rd:
Thanks so much to Samoana Rentals who have not only given us an incredible deal on our van rental but have also given us free accommodation when we arrive in and depart from Apia. Thanks James!

June 20th:
We continue to be humbled by the donations that keep coming in, from friends, family and work colleagues to people we have never met. There are so many kind hearted, generous people out there - thank you!

June 11th:
Did you see us in the Dom Post yesterday?? Thanks so much to Stacey Wood for the article and to Ross Giblin for the photo. We are blown away by the response we have had from this exposure.

Pictured from left: Dan Mitchener, Steve King, Simon White, Logan Thomas and Carl Petersen
(image courtesy of Ross Giblin)