Visiting New Life is always a special moment. For us veterans, we can’t wait to see familiar faces, to see how much they have grown, and to meet any new kids. This year we were introduced to 28 new children who came from a war torn region of the country, many of whom had never seen a big city, big buildings or done arts and craft before.
Our 2019 tour was fun filled with art and craft, music, drama, sewing and the most anticipated outing of the year: the annual water park visit.
The visit to the water park is a time where we see so much joy from the kids and the New Life staff alike. We don’t believe any of the kids can actually swim but the joy this event brings and the exhilaration of the large concrete slide is priceless. We must thank one of our amazing supporters who sponsors this event every year for the kids and staff of New Life.
The May 2019 Australian Team
Heather had a wonderful time with the preschoolers making cool crafts, singing songs, reading stories; all relating to a new theme each day.
In Heather’s words: WOW’s of the WEEK:
Some of the new kids hadn’t ever held a crayon or done any colouring in before; they mastered it well once they had the confidence to give it a go
The twin boys who were super shy and scared at the start got
really into it by the end even volunteering to be first when doing acting
Kids were super keen to show me everything they had made
even if they had only stuck on one ear they had to rush up and show me.
The children had such a great time and I learned a lot from
Meanwhile Kaylyn, Tracy and Janette did a range of arts and crafts with the primary school kids including making these cool Christmas Tree decorations which will be gifted to each guest attending our Annual Charity Dinner event in November this year.
Corlia, Marcie and Maria kept the secondary kids busy with a large range of creative activities.
Lyz and her group of sewing girls made much needed pillow cases for New Life.
Steve regrouped his band for their annual music workshop. Voices of angels.
Dr Maria opened her New Life Clinic for the week and pronounce the staff and kids in excellent health.
And last but certainly not least Frank, James and Steve battled the elements erecting shade-sails, kindly donated by Genesis College, over the newly installed playground.
Sadly, week two of the Australian Educational/Construction Tour to New Life has come to an end. We had a very emotional Friday afternoon as we said goodbye to all the kids and staff. This year we took the opportunity to give special thanks to the 40 staff who work tirelessly, 24/7, looking after the beautiful kids.
Once again it was an action filled week consisting of a variety activities for the kids. The mornings started with prayer, songs and the Australian Team performing a drama: The Story of Moses. The kids particularly enjoyed participating in the plague scenes helping Pharaoh suffer by throwing gnats, flies, grasshoppers, hail (ping pong balls) etc at him.
Jennifer & Madelaine Bull entertained the preschool kids painting super cool t-shirts, making different crafts and playing many games.
The primary kids were kept busy with the endless energy of Nicole & Dylan Brister playing sport and the amazing ingenuity of Marinda Brister in designing games, making crafts and cooking.
Steve Legge continue his music class from last week, teaching 4 songs including the Beatles classic “All You Need Is Love”. Plus he and Janette expanded on “I Am, You Are, We Are Myanmar” to include two new verses for the whole group.
On Wednesday, in keeping with the Australian/Myanmar theme, the primary kids made both countries flags out of crepe paper…they are now hanging proudly on the wall of the educational centre. That afternoon they showed their individuality in designing hand puppets and constructing a play. Meanwhile the older kids were enjoying their annual Water Park Wednesday. (The primary kids enjoyed the water park last week) A highly anticipated event of the year.
Other classes for secondary kids included:
Embroidery with Lynne Peter where the kids explored their creative side by blinging up donated white canvas bags with embroidery, patchwork and application of trinkets and beads.
Exploring variety of art techniques with Janette Hemelaar such as wax art, watercolors, acrylic painting, pencils and crayons.
Knitting with Lyzabeth Van Leer. In this group the girls learnt to cast on, learnt basic stitches and casting off. Some of girl’s became very creative making face washes, water bottle bags and scarves.
Computing with Maria Bakker where the kids were very quick in embracing technology. In class they learnt Word, fancy PowerPoint presentations using their new google search skills, invitation/certificate design and playing with some android applications.
We also had a very special member of our team, Gradi Tromp, who used her counseling skills to mentor staff and hold much needed sessions with the more emotionally traumatized children. These sessions incorporated sand trays, picture cards, journals and effective questioning methods. We all learnt that we may have ‘holes’ in our hearts due to loss, but we can make choices about how we fill those holes. We are surrounded by love, but when we have ‘holes’ we need to make a conscious decision to open our hearts to let this love in.
This week the kids also had a session on how to take good care of James’ Happy Bus.
Meanwhile, outside in the 36 degree plus heat, the construction team continued cementing around the Educational Centre, replaced table tops in the dining area, built a large sandpit for the preschool, and designed and built a “cyclone” proof shed for much needed outdoor pre-school equipment storage. Frank Hemelaar, Steve Bakker, Robin Brister, Don Inglis, and Ian Patrick.
All finishing on Friday afternoon with a traditional dance and presentation session, followed by our emotional farewells.
Last but not least we should thank Seasons Hotel, our home away from home.
This year our week one team consisted of 14 members from Brisbane and 1 from Melbourne.
The exciting change for the team was the move of most activities to the new Education Center which has air conditioning! Unfortunately for the building team it was still 35 plus degrees outside.
The educational theme in week one was Australiana where the kids learnt about Aboriginal culture, the first fleet, etc, sang “I am, you are, we are Australian”. We also did a local version: “I am, you are, we are Myanmar”. Lecture series presented by Janette Hemelaar.
It was also so a busy week in Arts and Crafts making boomerangs, kangaroos in pots, and super cool giraffes, wax paintings and much much more. Visiting Arts and craft team: Alette Visser, Corlia Roos, Grace McSorely and Marcia Howearth.
Dr Maria Haase did her annual medical health checks on all the kids, workers and the workers families. This year she found most in excellent health. Awesome result. Additionally she gave her annual health talks to the adolescent kids, with the enthusiastic assistance of Andrew Visser and Steve Bakker covering the boy topics.
The new educational centre also runs a preschool program for the little ones from New Life and the surrounding community. We were very fortunate to have Anne-Marie Kingston from Genesis College join us with the primary objective to organize the structure of the preschool room. This was a huge ask and Anne-Marie did an exceptional job
In music class Steve Legge has been teaching both the vocal and instrumental composition for “Oceans”. We will see this performed on Friday of week two.
Finally we also run our first computing class. This was only possible due to the generosity of Genesis College (Brisbane) who donated over 30 second hand laptop computers. We were able to setup WiFi, I understand from our Australian teenagers that this is a human right. Week 1’s class learnt to setup a laptop, setup a gmail account, learn how to design on canva.com and produce a PowerPoint presentation using their newly learnt google.com skills on facts of a particular country. Thank you Genesis College. Teacher – Maria Bakker.
And none of this would be possible without a team of 6 local interpreters who donated their time.
Meanwhile outside in 35+ deg heat our building team put in the hard yards designing and constructing an awning over the front door of the educational centre and laid cement around the educational centre. Construction team: Frank Hemelaar, Andrew Visser, Steve Bakker, Steve Gibbs, Malcolm Bull and Darren Cole.
Over the last couple of years the New Life Children always kept James Visser in their hearts and prayers. Even though they never met, James and the kids had a special relationship. Sadly James lost his battle with cancer earlier this year.
Today New Life welcomes “James’ Happy Bus” – a special legacy to James’.
This brand new 29 seater bus will be used to transport the kids to and from school, church and other social activities.
A message from Mrs Janette Hemelaar:
James was the epitome of ‘unconditional love’.
Loved and adored by all.
We are so thankful that his legacy will continue in this place that also reflects ‘unconditional love and happiness’.
We will always remember you James. 😊😘👏🙏
Now you are in your eternal home with God. – how wonderful!!!
This trip we had three goals: Build a new dining hall, paint a boys dorm and unpack a container of donated items from Australia.
Mission 1 and 2 complete. Unfortunately the container didn’t progress past getting off the wharf and hence mission 2 was extended to involve painting the inside of the dorm.
Construction of the dining hall was a HUGE task to complete in such a short amount of time, every step of the way the team was thinking it’s not going to be complete. But at the end of the week we left New Life with walls up, roof on, lights sparkling and fans spreading joy in the heat. Win (Our Burmese Engineer/Builder) and his team were left to finish the guttering and do a couple small paint jobs.
The whole team feel so privileged to have had the opportunity to be involved in this project and to learn from the leaders and children at New Life Trust (thankyou Israel and Bella). A massive thank you to Frank and Janette Hemelaar for once again providing the opportunity and encouragement and David Bull for Project Managing the whole task.
David Bull was so proud of his team he gave them all nicknames. Here is his summary of everyone’s efforts for the week.
Crusty, JT and Hollywood have been kicking goals with the structural steel and did an amazing job getting the roof on in two days.
– Crusty (aka Russell Alleway) for his 80% effort. (Unfortunately for Russell he took the 100% hit for the team being the man down with a horrid tummy bug taking him out for over 24hrs) Awesome team member and contributor. Love the chopper look.
– Hollywood (aka Jon Holliday) Maybe a self confessed weak gutted unit but Stunning debut and nominee for Draft pick no 1.
– JT. The machine. (Aka John Tenni)
The Big Unit, François (aka Frank) and Zak have concreted a new generator pad, repaired many holes in Dining Hall. They have also laid a new front landing for the Education Centre and started the pathway around the building and a new driveway for Hope.
The Big Unit (aka Grant Alleway) Awesome effort as a member of the Team Concrete brotherhood.
Zak Bull for willingness to learn and have a red hot go.
Man Friday (aka Steve Bakker) moving between jobs as his skills have been in hot demand. He worked with Hollywood to rearrange Kangaroo Hall roof for the main entrance to the Dining Hall. Then he fixed the kitchen roof to vastly improve the ventilation. François then nicked him to assist with concreting.
The Executive Director of the Workshop and Tools Inventory, aka The Fan Man (Joko Du Plessis) has laid serious claim to the “Most Improved” award for his stellar welding work fixing all 110 of the brackets to the columns for the wall sheeting. He also assembled 10 fans with his apprentice fan mechanic Solomon. However he is on his first warning as Executive Director of workshop and inventory. The tool situation fiasco at job’s end has to rest on someone’s shoulders (preferably not the project manager).
The Dynamic duo of Dwayne and Ian have powered up the newlywed’s love shack, installed a new hot water unit in Bella’s house and installed the fan and lighting control panel for the Dining Hall.
Meanwhile the girl’s painting job kept expanding, first it was just the outside, then one room inside, then the whole house. Amazing effort by Janette Hemelaar, Colleen Alleway and Karen Du Plessis who painted for the full 5 days. Tiffany Tenni and Maria Bakker were pinched by the construction team on Thursday and Friday. Vi & Ian Deed left us on Thursday for travels, but not before they both put in an amazing effort keeping up with the youngsters.
The following beautiful poem by Colleen Alleway sums up the girl’s experience.
The Perpetual Painters.
The Perpetual Painters begin with a plan
To paint the outside the best we possibly can.
Liquid oil with sun protection is the very best way,
To at least keep the intrusive white ants at bay.
As this weary building intensifies with its new black skin,
The newbie Perpetual Painters are beginning to grin!
Every brand new timber window frame
Thirstily soaks up all the white paint it has claimed.
Satisfaction is now filling the air but soon there’s a sigh sounding something like despair.
The interior looks so tired & dreary indeed
We must pop the lid off the next paint tin & see where it leads.
Together again this team dips their brush,
This time with satisfaction and confidence not to rush.
Grey, white & ivory are the new colours of splendour,
Transforming this abode with love so tender.
It’s for these little people who have lost everything they have ever known,
These walls now warmly echo “this is your new home”.
The Hope centre family brings love, kindness and care,
everything here is bathed daily in heartfelt prayer.
Unfortunately the team was one down today. This is not an unusual occurrence on tour due to different food and the environment being very different from Australia. Lucky for us it was only one.
The following is an account of our second last day on the tools, building the Dining Hall by Project Director David Bull.
Crusty having a pyjama day.
VTeam Concrete (François, Steve, Sweat Machine and Zach) fixed much of the Dining Hall. Maria and Tiffany were added to the team and did awesome work. New careers beckons….
Almost everyone had a crack at wall sheeting with the northern side all but complete.
Hollywood and JT (the machine) led the charge with a kingnormous effort sheeting off the entire northern half of the roof. Very hot in the full sun. New TA T-Squared made sure the lads were constantly supplied with hoisting the roof sheeting and maintaining their cold drinks intake.
Steve and Maria have taken on the task of preparing the top rail for the lower wall. The finished product will be awesome.
Dwayne powered through the fan and lighting cabling and had 2 lights on by day’s end. Looks spectacular.
Bracket King Joko was the girt (side rails) and wall sheeting dude.
Click on the following link to see time lapse of this arvo’s awesome work.
The structure is 30m long x 10m wide and all prefabricated from structural steel. The footings are 1.2m deep and comprise steel reinforced concrete. To dig the footings the existing concrete had to be cut and jackhammered through. The structural steel has been manufactured using a jig and laser aligning tools. About 100kg of galvanised high tensile bolts were brought in by the team from Australia as they are not available in Burma. Our Burmese engineer Win is making certain the structure is 100% square prior to roof and wall sheeting being installed – starting Wednesday morning.
Writing credit: David Bull, Dining Hall Project Director
Before and after: The site on arrival and at end of day 2. Try to achieve this in Australia.
Traditionally the November Construction tour to New Life has consisted solely of men. But times are changing, 2016 saw two ladies join the tour and 2017 we have 6 ladies. What are we doing? Today, the official day one on the tools, was very productive, the ladies painted a boy’s dorm outside and inside. Tomorrow will see them adding a second coat and painting the window shutters white. Day 3 we hope the container of donated items from Australia will arrive and unpacking and sorting will commence.
On Saturday 11th November a 17 member team from Brisbane arrived in Yangon to primarily construct an new dining hall at New Life. David Bull and Frank Hemelaar have been in talks with Win, our Burmese builder/engineer planing this project for over a year. The Kids from New Life demolished the previous building in a day with Win’s team preparing steel fabrication and the site for the team’s arrival.