Far from Honiara, young women leaders of the future are developing their skills.
After 2 years at St Anne’s Rural Training Centre (RTC) on the remote Island of Nila in the Shortland islands, graduates will soon be returning home with all the skills they need to take a lead in developing their home communities.
Jane Banfield, Mahitahi volunteer from Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand, recently returned from her assignment at St Anne’s.
She explained the history of the school, ‘Dominican Sisters founded the school back in 1977, and this tradition continues today.
This year Sister Antonia Leoa, Principal, capably leads the teaching team, so the school maintains its Dominican charism as part of a range of Catholic schools within the Gizo Diocese Catholic Education Authority.
Core subjects such as home management, family studies, health, life skills and agriculture remain as useful today as they did when the school began.
These subjects still form part of the well-balanced curriculum, but to prepare for the region’s changing needs, ‘Small Business Studies’, ‘Water & Sanitation’, and ‘Hospitality and Tourism’ are also studied, along with ‘English Communication’ and ‘Leadership’.
The well-maintained ‘St Rose of Lima Guest House’ generates much-needed income for the school, while at the same time providing students with practical training in hospitality and eco-tourism.
That their training has been successful is shown in the excellent reviews from departing guests.
Handcrafts created by the students can be seen on the walls of the Guest House, and as Volunteer Jane adds, “Nila is a fascinating island. You take a walk along bush tracks and see an extraordinary range artefacts from WWII, then head to the Lookou monument to the earliest Marist missionaries, where glorious views stretch across the ocean.”
Asked for one final comment before she heads home to New Zealand, the volunteer adds, “No visit to Nila would be complete without viewing the superb ‘basket gardens’ woven by the students of St Anne’s. Visit Nila, stay at the Guest House, and see for yourself – you won’t be disappointed.”