NEW FRIENDSHIPS: St Matthews Anglican Church member Faye Harris with Judith Tabiru and Susan Votu in the Solomon Islands.
NEW FRIENDSHIPS: St Matthews Anglican Church member Faye Harris with Judith Tabiru and Susan Votu in the Solomon Islands.

Gayndah missions to poverty-stricken nation

IN THE Solomon Islands, school is a privilege, not a right.

For that reason, the Solomon Islands' Mothers Union tasked a Gayndah mission group to provide items to set up a day care centre on its recent mission trip.

St Matthews Anglican Church in Gayndah spent months collecting donated items including clothing, books, toys, pencils and paper.

When it came time for five members of the church to take off for their trip, their own luggage was minimal.

"We took about seventy kilograms of supplies over in our bags,” member Cheryl Cumming said.

"On the island where they are building a preschool, most of the families go up in the bush to look after their farm where they grow fruit and vegies and they leave the young children at home to be looked after by slightly older children.

"They're trying to create a bit of a pre-school so the children are safer while their parents are out earning an income, mostly selling produce at the markets.”

The trip was Mrs Cumming's first time outside of Australia, and she and her husband had to get their very first passport.

She said while it felt good to help improve education in the Solomon Islands, the families have great dynamics and the children are spirited.

"I think they're happier, I think they have a better family connection whereas our family dynamics are so disjointed in Australia,” she said.

"The materialistic stuff doesn't mean a lot at the end of the day, I think it's the family connections that are more important and they realise that.”

Mrs Cumming and her husband Wayne, along with Ray and Faye Harris, and Robbyn Slack were the five church members on the mission trip.

"The Solomon Islands receive minimal support from our Australian Government, unlike many other wealthier nations,” church member Angela Slack said.

"The Mothers Union arm of the Solomon Islands Church provides education for women so that they can learn basic skills such as reading and mathematics as well as teaching other skills such as sewing and craft as women aspire to providing enough income so their children can attend school or to provide basic medicines.”

Mothers Union is a subgroup of St Matthews which reaches out to others.

This was the main organising committee in the Solomon Island outreach.

In 2010, 15 women from the Mothers Union in the Solomon Islands visited Gayndah and last year 26 women visited.

"St Matthews have long had a ministry with the Solomon Island women through Mothers Union and we have hosted them in Gayndah on two occasions over many years,” Mrs Slack said.

"The contacts that we have made have encouraged our own people to reciprocate with a visit to celebrate the centenary of Mothers Union in the Solomon Islands.”

On top of supplies, the team also carried a set of Bishops robes for the Solomon Island Bishop from their own dear Bishop Jeremy Greaves, whose own Grandfather was Bishop to the Solomon Islands during World War II.

"We intend keeping our links with these people very much alive,” Ms Slack said.

"More mission journeys are planned and with God's help our church and the Solomon Islands Church will be closer than before.”


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