Accompanied by their local church minister Rev Vivieni Paeaand and their rugby coach, the group of 16 boys was given the opportunity to experience another culture and earn a little money for their college. The 18-year-olds were staying at a local hotel and bussing each day to Longford to pick tomatoes. The money they earned was to be given to their college to buy tools for technical and trades classes.
UCAF member Betty Growse is a member of the Yarram Parish. She said locals soon discovered the boys’ love of food and singing, and the group was warmly welcomed into the local community.
“It has been our parish’s considerable joy, and indeed blessing, to share fellowship, food, laughter, food, song and more food with this lovely group of young men,” Ms Grouse said.
“We found out the boys were heading to work with only a cup of tea, so arranged for them to be able to purchase enough breakfast food each day.
“Our parish and UCAF groups have provided them with over $600 worth of tools, warm clothing (they were freezing in our unusual weather), after-worship food each Sunday and a casserole/sweets night.
“Car-pooling was organised to take them to see kangaroos and koalas, and also the sea at Port Albert.”
Ms Grouse said the local publican was so taken with the boys staying at his hotel that he organised a fundraiser, with donations going to support their school.
“The place was packed to capacity. With a percentage of the meals’ cost, and donations, the boys were given over $1500 for their funds.”
Ms Grouse said the support of the local community was reciprocated. The group of young men made such an impact that the relationship will continue for many years to come.
“Our Parish has been richly blessed – they have enriched us and have brought joy to many people,” Ms Grouse said.
“It has been decided that supporting these boys and their college will be an ongoing part of our missionary work.”