More than plumbing: Health and safety concerns drive fundraising effort

Students at Gabensis Adventist Primary School, Morobe Province, PNG.

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A team of Aussies and Kiwis is partnering with Papua New Guinea locals to deliver what they call TTT—Taps, Toilets and Transformation. Their focus right now is the Gabensis Adventist Primary School, a boarding school attended by students aged 13 to 16 in lush hilly country 40 minutes inland from Lae city.

One of TTT’s key players, Joy Butler, a New Zealander living in Lae, says the school has never had proper bathroom facilities. She’s particularly concerned about the possible impact of this on female students. “Right now the girls walk down the path and across a main road to the river—about half a kilometre away—to take a bath. In the early days the river was probably adequate but now the road they cross is busy, trucks stop by the river and the drivers rest, drink and talk in view of the girls. It is only a matter of time until there will be some atrocity and we’ll all be thoroughly ashamed.”

Two pit toilets service the student population.

The toilet facilities are closer—a dilapidated outhouse up the hill behind the school—but students must walk down past the dorm and the classrooms to the one tap to wash their hands. It’s a recipe for inadequate hygiene and the spread of infectious diseases.

A building program is underway at Gabensis—a dining hall is under construction and a new dormitory for the 100 female students is nearly finished.

“But they still need a bathroom,” says Ms Butler. “There is space under the dormitory for this but no money at this stage. The mission has no money and the government has cut their promised funding for schools. Some of the funds already raised will help but it is not enough.”

The TTT team is aiming for a modest fundraising target of $10,000. They know from experience how generous Adventist donors can be—in February this year TTT raised funds and coordinated the repainting and refurbishment of dormitories and bathrooms at Kabiufa Adventist Secondary School in Goroka. Donations can be made through the South Pacific Division (mention TTT). For more information, search Facebook for “Joy-Marie Butler”.

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