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| Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle | www.mn.catholic.org.au
JESSICA MAZALO AND Jacob Riordan,
students at St Francis Xavier's College
Hamilton, will escape the July winter,
participating in a building project in the
fishing village of Gaire, an hour east of Port
Moresby for 13 days. The remaining eight
days will be spent trekking the rough and
remote Kokoda track.
The students -- part of a team of 16 young
people -- were offered sponsorship by Jacob
('Jake') Robinson, co-ordinator of Investa
Treks, a trekking company and Salvation
Jessica recalled she was "pretty ecstatic"
when she received the offer.
"I couldn't sleep that night. I was emailing
all my friends, 'Hey guess what? I'm going
Jacob was astonished.
"I don't think it had really quite sunk in,
what it would entail," he said.
A strong back, steady feet and willingness
to work are required to build the Salvation
Army Gaire Church, then trek 95 kilometres
carrying 15 to 18 kilogram backpacks.
Villages along the track will provide a place
to sleep at night.
"We will also stop at guest houses, some
of which are in the jungle," Jake said. He
plans to take the group on a night trek.
With only two weeks before
departure, Jacob is looking forward to
"I really want to do the building project. It's
just a great and amazing opportunity."
He said the church will be a place
of worship and celebration but also
operate as "a medical administration
centre and general community hall".
"It will be a great investment into
For Jessica, the prospect of experiencing
another culture while helping the people of
Gaire will be "very rewarding".
According to Jake, helping others is the
impetus of Investa Treks.
"Our love for God is the motivation
The company was born after Jake's first
visit to PNG in 2007. Aiming to conquer
Kokoda, he unexpectedly discovered
another aim: improving the living conditions
of the country's people.
"I just saw a huge need over there and
thought that I have the ability to be able to
He returned to Port Moresby in 2008 with
a building project team of 18 people and
extended and renovated a childcare centre
trekking Kokoda again afterwards.
"Our connection with the Kokoda Track
is the Salvation Army. The Army was here
throughout the war and is continuing to
make a difference."
"The funds we raise from our Kokoda treks
go back to donated building projects and
youth leadership development."
To take part in the building project and
trek, Jessica and Jacob are raising $1,800
each. Fundraising events have included
barbecues and speeches on the history
and significance of Kokoda to St Pius
X High School at Adamstown and St
Therese's Primary at New Lambton.
If anyone would like to contribute to Jessica
and Jacob's trek, or is interested in trekking
Kokoda or assisting in a building project,
On track for
ANZAC Day speeches at the Newcastle Commemoration Service by two Year 11
students led to an opportunity to walk the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea.
ST DOMINIC S CENTRE for Hearing
Impaired Children, Mayfield,
welcomed Australian storyteller and
poet Murray Hartin to the school last
month for the launch of a new initiative
which supports literacy development
The "Books in Homes" program
empowers children and families,
often living in disadvantaged
circumstances in Australia, by offering
them a choice of three brand new books,
three times a year, to help build up a
home library where books can be shared
with family and passed on to siblings.
The Program builds on the knowledge that
whole school literacy involves students,
schools, families and communities
and is critical for children's overall
Since 2001, Books in Homes has
delivered in excess of 1,000,000 books
of choice to 290 communities and schools
across the nation!
Murray Hartin described the program as a
win-win and said he was "over the moon"
to be granting the books to the children at
"Research has proven that developing
readers are better engaged when they
choose books that interest them," he
said. "Books in Homes provides children
with that choice, to pick and then keep
their own books. Some children come
from homes with no books in the house.
This program allows families to build up
their own home library and it encourages
children and their families to sit down
together and read. The school is also
provided with a copy of each book to build
up the school library resources."
Murray explains that the books are
designed to be fun but the content's
appropriate and includes fiction, non-
fiction, mathematics and more. One in four
authors are Indigenous.
"We've seen this program have life-
changing effects and I'm really excited that
the children at St Dominic's are able to
benefit from this program, which aims to
achieve better outcomes for
By EMMA BLACKFORD
By SIOBHAN MCALARY
Murray Hartin with students of St Dominic's Mayfield.
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