The Catholic Agency for Justice, Peace and Development

Preparing Communities in Samoa

By Petra Wheatley - a Catholic Volunteer Overseas with Caritas Samoa.

I’m 24 years old, born and bred in Wellington, and have been placed with Caritas Samoa in Apia from January to May, 2017 as a Programmes Team Assistant supporting the small team to deliver some of the projects the organisation has within the community. 

A large part of my role has been assisting the community disaster preparedness programme that we’ve been running in collaboration with the Samoan Red Cross, which involves going out into the communities and getting an idea of what people would like to be trained in to prepare their community for a
future disaster.

My background is in development, and prior to this placement I worked for Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand as Programmes Team Assistant, so I am uniquely qualified to contribute to the Caritas Samoa team.

The opportunity to live and work in Apia, Samoa, has been incredibly rewarding and a real blessing. I live with a beautiful Samoan family, and I feel like I am fully a part of their family. Sundays are my favourite day because of the rhythm and routine you get into. I go with them to church for Mass and take part in all the family activities.

When I signed up for my placement with Caritas Samoa, I wasn’t sure how much I would be able to contribute in such a short space of time. But it turns out that my contributions and presence in the office have been hugely valuable to my counterparts, and I’m incredibly grateful for that.
For anyone who is considering a CVO (Catholic Volunteers Overseas) placement, I encourage you to put the most you can into your placement because the more you put in, the more you’ll get out of it.

I also feel it’s incredibly important to go into these placements with an open mind, and an attitude that is flexible and adaptable to the situation as it changes.

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Tutu ana te puehu - Stirring up the dust