• QBN Tigers Club

Highly successful Tigers adventure to the Solomon Islands

The following is a report of the highly successful Tigers adventure to the Solomon Islands as part of the Clubs Community Activity Program

Queanbeyan Tigers Conduct AFL Exchange in the Solomon Islands (for more photo’s please go to the Queanbeyan Tigers FB page)

Report compiled by Club Chaplain and Committee-person Scott Minchin who organised the adventure for a diverse group of Tiger Associates including players of both genders, committee and volunteers. 

About 4am on the 23rd of October, across Canberra, Queanbeyan and Royalla, alarm clocks sounded waking up a special team of Queanbeyan Tigers players and volunteers who headed out on an end of season trip with a difference.

Club Chaplain Scott Minchin along with Club Chairman Ron ‘Chook’ Fowlie, and the tireless encouragement and organisation from Chrissie Craven and Ryan Quade – led a group of sleepy volunteers into the Qantas terminal at Canberra airport on their way to Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands.

The group consisted of Hayden Kelly, Hannah Dunn, Ella Ross, Ryan Quade, Lindsey Anders, Ashleigh Dand, Chrissie Craven, Carly Res and the ‘El Chapo’ Scott Minchin (soon to be joined by Dan Lucas and Brett ‘Wombat’ Ormston).

They boarded flights on a trip that is both special and unique – and underlines the Tigers Spirit and the calibre of people that make up the Queanbeyan Tigers.

The Club already had a connection with the Solomon Islands. In 2016 ‘El Chapo’ Scott Minchin deployed to the Solomon Islands in his role as a Civil Military Coordination Officer., Scott took with him clothes, equipment and sports gear (which had been donated by players from the Tigers Club) which went to some of the poorest communities in the Solomon Island region.

In 2017 – the Queanbeyan Tigers went one better. The Chaplain, Scott Minchin suggested to the Clubs Chairman about organising a group of associates from the Tigers Club to travel to the Solomon Islands as a Group Community Activity.

Volunteer Chrissy Craven placed a notice in the Clubrooms suggesting that players and volunteers might want to go on a different type of end of season trip – swapping races for roofing, mendin

In partnership with the Rotary Club of Honiara who are an amazing group of people who work tirelessly for the Solomon Islands – the Tigers team headed into the great unknown – to complete projects that would provide fresh water, rain catchment, fencing repairs, bedding and clothing to orphanages, refuges and schools.

Landing in Honiara later in the afternoon of the 23rd the trip had an interesting start – with Sydney Swans star player – Isaac Heeney travelling on the same day – and being a fan – he asked Hannah Dunn, Ella Ross and Ashleigh Dand if he could have a photo with them.

Chatting with Isaac Heeney at Honiara Airport he said what an awesome idea the trip was by the Queanbeyan Tigers footy club – and that he would like to hear more about the trip next year.

Met by a group of Rotarians – including Jess Bradford from the Rotary Club of Honiara – who was an amazing help in organising the trip and coordinating activities in the Solomon Islands – any fears about homestays quickly diminished when groups arrived at their host locations with company, hospitality, swimming pools and warm friendships immediately on offer.

Tuesday the 24th work started at the Christian Care Centre or CCC– just west of Alligator Creek where some of the Guadalcanal battles occurred. The CCC is a refuge managed and run by the Dominican Sisters providing crisis care and long term stays for families affected by fear and violence. During the trip up to 15 families were housed there with up to 25 waiting for accommodation support including bedding and freshwater supplies. On the way to CCC the team were treated to a road block near Hells Point, the explosive ordnance disposal area for the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force – to wait for a detonation that was almost as loud as the cheer when Hayden Kelly made his return to the playing field this year.

Day, one was building a new generator stand, commencing the preparation for water tower stands and mixing cement and digging in 33 degree heat with 80 percent humidity – what off season. Hayden Haydos Kelly quickly established himself as the MVP – leading the projects with local assistants Jacob and John Lee – and quickly the group established friendship and rapport with the residents. Tuesday night the team was hosted by the Rotary Club of Honiara – where ‘El Chapo’ was asked to speak about the cub, the trip and our volunteer efforts – the appreciation shown by the Rotarians was humbling – which wouldn’t be the last humbling experience of this trip.

Wednesday saw the team back at CCC – with two more water tank stands built – digging through rocky ground – and in the case of Ella and Hannah – unearthing some war relics. One job is never enough for the Tigers – so while cement was setting a trampoline was built – and the laughter and smiles of a group of children who have almost nothing in life continued the humbling moments of the trip. Chrissie Craven and ‘El Chapo’ conducted a side visit to Bright Star Primary School – a Rotary Club sponsored school that caters to one of the poorest communities. All staff receive potato payments – the villages are so poor that the payments are in goods only. The school has 4 hand built classrooms catering for 600 students – and the Queanbeyan Tigers donated books clothes toys and a generous cash donation thanks to our volunteers and donors such as Chrissie Craven and Lauren Flakelar, which the Principal (who also lives in a classroom at the school with his family of 4) gratefully thanked us for the donations.

The school will ask Rotary for a Queanbeyan Tigers work team in 2018.

As the CC work continued roof plumbing and water tanks, the Tigers took the opportunity to make more friends. Babies got cuddled, children were loaded into wheelbarrows for races, books were read to children, toys were give out and hair was braided; and impromptu soccer and volleyball games broke out – with varying levels of competitiveness – from one hand one bounce volleyball to recently retired players blasting shots at teammates during soccer games. Carly and Ella had a swing race, Chrissie gave a rub down to a future Tigers player, Ash and Haydos and Carly led wheelbarrow races – and Hannah was almost run down in a game of ‘chasey’ by Monica – a girl with a club foot whose happiness and speed belied her life and circumstances. During a juggling display coordinated by Lindsey and Ryan, Sister Agnes, CCC coordinator remarked that she had not heard the laughter and squeals of joy at the CCC like this before.

On the Wednesday night the group ventured out to watch an amazing sunset and share a group dinner, which doubled as a celebration of sorts, as ‘El Chapo’ received notification earlier that day of his recognition as a Global Rotary Peace Fellow, an overseas scholarship that recognises community, and volunteer service, and achievement in the workplace.

Thursday at CCC work continued the tanks and towers, with construction of beds to house more residents that need care and assistance (in the week after leaving-  another 15 families have found care, refuge and shelter at the CCC).

On a sad day for the Queanbeyan Tigers the Solomon Islands team ventured to the beach outside the Christian Care Centre at 1100 where ‘El Chapo’ conducted a memorial service for a great mate and forever family Razor Ray Daniel – sending love to Ray, sharing our memories and thoughts looking towards a far horizon was a special moment to reflect on a great man – at place where people are helped – a place for those who have the least – think Razor Ray would be proud.

Our afternoon concluded with the first of a series of donations to the CCC thanks to Megan Godfrey – many of these families leave their homes with nothing – some walk more than 20 miles to seek refuge – the graciousness and gratefulness of Sister Agnes on behalf of the CCC was humbling.

Friday saw us head out to St Nicholas school – a school that supports secondary education in the Solomon Islands – and specifically engages boys and girls in community activity to develop them as community leaders and students.

Led by Haydos-Quade constructions, our team build two water tank stands that will provide fresh water enabling students from outer islands to come to the school, gain skills and return to their provin