SALELOLOGA (Samoa): 3 June 2011 — Already described as a new ‘jewel’ in the South Pacific, the Don Bosco High School and Vocational Centre at Salelologa on the ‘big’ island of Savai’i, Samoa, was formally opened on 3 June, in the presence of the Prime Minister of Samoa, His Excellency Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi, and His Grace the Archbishop of Samoa, Alapati Lui Mataeliga. Present for the occasion was the Salesian Provincial of the Australia-Pacific Province, Fr Frank Moloney, and of course Salesians, Sisters, friends and students and their parents.
The long awaited Don Bosco School is the only Catholic Secondary school on Savai’i where more than 90% of the population are subsistence farmers.
Fr Mosese Tui sdb is the Principal of the school, and has also overseen the entire building operation. Given the difficult terrain (volcanic rock and jungle growth), the relative isolation in terms of material supplies, the Provincial recently described the accomplishment of Fr Mosese and his team as nothing short of a miracle. There are already more than 100 students at the school, which opened for students at the beginning of the 2011 school year and already has the first building stage, comprising a number of classrooms and an administration facility completed. Plans are already drawn up for the Salesian residence, chapel and a volunteers residence. In fact, the project has been ably assisted by two Cagliero Volunteers from the Province Mission Voluntary Service program of that name, one of whom is a master tradesman and has overseen the finishing touches.
It goes without saying that a project of this kind is very costly: distance, isolation and therefore transport requirements add to already high building costs in the area. The project is funded through the Province which has welcomed the support it has received from the Bonn Mission Office and is seeking further funding arrangements from other sources of the kind. A feature of what is often called ‘mission solidarity’ in Salesian terminology is the wholehearted backing of every Salesian community in the Province – Fr Moloney was able to announce with not a little pride, that he was the bearer of some $60,000 towards the project, all contributed from ‘local’ Salesian sources in the Province.
A sideline, but an interesting little fact: for the past 30 years of the Salesian presence in these beautiful and fruitful (including vocationally) islands, our presence there has been distinguished by a little-known fact – Samoa sits just 32 kms east of the International Dateline, meaning that the Australia-Pacific Province is the only Salesian Province in the world with two days in one, so to speak! When it is Thursday in Samoa it is already Thursday in Australia! this has made communications tricky at any time, but especially tricky when unsuspecting international visitors overlook the fact and miss flights, or think they have time on their hands when in fact they have none! All that is due to pass shortly. Samoa has decreed that probably on 29 December, it will ‘change sides’ (it already did that with its roads a year ago!). And just how is something like that decided? “There is nobody that can say yes or no”, says David Mumford of the group which publishes Collins and Times atlases for HarperCollins. “The country decides for itself. Then it’s just a matter of publicising it, informing the international community and the map-makers”. Would that running a heap of other institutions, the ‘pia società’ included, were so simple!