Rtn Rob Deshon is a member of the 'buddy' club of Catherine Bonifant.
 
Rotary Vocational Training Team to Tonga, Sept 2014.
 
The aim of Vocational Training Teams is to train people in the receiving country so that they in turn can pass on their newly acquired knowledge after the VTT returns home.  In this case, the funding was also used to bring two of the workers from The Mango Tree to Brisbane for training there.  
The Mango Tree Respite Centre for the disabled in the Kingdom of Tonga was established by a Korean couple who are members of the Church of the Nazarene.  Amanake and Ofa (Tongan names they have adopted) came to Tonga with thoughts that they might set up a church or a school there, but in this deeply religious country there is no shortage of churches, and numerous schools, but a dearth of facilities for disabled people.  The centre caters for children with disabilities and their families.
 
There is a constant stream of helpers, many of them Nazarenes, who come to Tonga to volunteer at the centre, some for a week or two, and others for much longer stints.  Through one of its teachers, Narbethong Special School in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, heard about The Mango Tree and decided to send a team there for a week during the school holidays.  Three more teams have followed, and the last of these travelled to Tonga in September 2014.
Narbethong is a school for children with Vision Impairment.  Children up to normal school age attend the school from very early in their lives, but only children with some degree of intellectual impairment stay on at the school after they reach school age.  Many of the children are very severely handicapped, so the school utilises visiting health professionals from several different disciplines, together with skilled teachers and teacher’s aides.  Their skills are ideally suited to helping the Tongan children and their families. 
 
Teams have normally had about six members, and all team members from the first three trips funded their own expenses.  Each time they went, they took as many teaching aids with them as they could manage, and this resulted in excess baggage costs.

Narbethong’s school nurse’s husband was President of the Rotary Club of Sunnybank Hills in 2013-14, and the school approached the club to ask for some financial assistance to help with the excess baggage costs.  President Brett Fraser felt that the team going to Tonga would qualify as a Rotary Vocational Training Team, and successfully approached The Rotary Foundation for a Global Grant for this purpose, together with the Rotary Club of Nuku’alofa.
The VTT consisted of Brett Fraser as the Rotarian team leader, three Narbethong staff members, five health professionals who have an association with the school, and two spouses whose travel was self-funded.  One of the spouses, Aaron Tait, is a professional photographer, and the attached video is the work of Aaron and his son Hunter.
 

 

Rotary Vocational Training in Tonga 2014 from Aaron Tait Photography on Vimeo.

AFTER VIEWING PLEASE RETURN TO HOMEPAGE TO REGISTER YOUR ATTENDANCE

 
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