4 April 2008
The New Zealand agency Mahitahi Catholic Overseas Volunteers, sent three volunteers, Dr Alice Guidera (pictured left with staff at Nila), Alex McDonald (civil engineer), and Simon Allison (builder), in October–November 2007 to assist in the Shortland Is, Western Province of the Solomon Islands, with post-tsunami and earthquake reconstruction and rehabilitation.
The volunteers’ arrival in Gizo coincided with the ordination of the new Bishop of Gizo, Bishop Luciano Capelli OP escorted by Mahitahi Director Christina Reymer. This was a wonderful opportunity to witness local culture at its best.
The volunteers wasted no time in getting to know the place, assessing the damage, immersing themselves in local culture, and developing relationships with key local personnel in order to make the most of their brief time in the country.
Nila Clinic, where Dr Alice was based, had not seen a doctor for years. The guys not only helped with building a storage shed for Caritas, but were able to offer invaluable advice on other buildings and infrastructure in the region.
Though their stay was brief, their contribution was greatly appreciated by Caritas and local people alike. And for the volunteers themselves, it was an experience of a life-time, one they will not easily forget. The warmth and hospitability shown them by local people will certainly not be forgotten.
Pictures: top right: Alex, Alice, Simon, Christina and Bishop Luciano.
Above left: Alex with co-workers at Nila, building a storage shed for Caritas.
Right: Simon with new friends at Nila.