By Fleur Revell
21 January 2014
Kiwi company House of Travel is helping to connect Samoa to the modern world by donating computer equipment and skilled
labour to a college in Apia.
House of Travel Holdings donated 85 second-hand computers, monitors and servers, plus a week of IT technician Adrian
Miller’s time to Chanel College, a struggling Catholic school which now has the capacity to get its students online.
For Adrian, who had never travelled to the Pacific Islands before, it proved to be a life-changing experience.
“It felt amazing to do something selfless, altruistic, knowing that I was part of something that was beneficial to so
many people. I’m sincerely grateful for that experience. I’ve always wanted to do something like that and my company
gave me that opportunity.”
Formerly Christchurch-based but now in Wellington, Adrian jumped at the opportunity when his employer sought volunteers
for the work, part of a larger, ongoing project being led by Kiwi John Ryan. He and his wife are former volunteer
teachers at the school.
Adrian and John had just five days to set in place the infrastructure to enable the college to get connected and Adrian
has been following up with school staff in Samoa since his return to New Zealand to test the system and guide teachers
there to getting it up and running.
“When I volunteered to go to Samoa I didn’t really think about how the work I would be doing would impact on the college
and its staff, students and the community. It started to sink in as the work over there progressed,” Adrian says.
“I realised that donating my skills and expertise were a lot more valuable than donating $20 would have been – it will
make a huge difference to the people there and it’s great to be part of helping to upskill the Samoan people to bring
them into the technical age.
“Many people there have no computer skills at all. Being able to get on the internet is basically a human right these
days and has the potential to make a huge difference to the likes of students at Chanel College. It will open up many
opportunities for them in the future.”
The hospitality and kindness of the Samoan people made the experience all the more meaningful for Adrian who says being
immersed in the local culture was a real eye-opener and something he will never forget.
Chanel College in Moamoa, Samoa, was founded in 1962 by Marist Fathers and Adrian and John were hosted by local priests
during their five-day stay. They put in some long hours to get the work completed.
“We did what we could in the timeframe we had. I’d love to go back some time and see how it’s all going.”
House of Travel Holdings CEO Mark O’Donnell said the company was very pleased to be able to help John and contribute to
his work at Chanel College.
House of Travel also does charitable work in New Zealand through a partnership with Hospice New Zealand. All branches
have adopted their local hospice and assist in raising funds and educating people about the organisation’s great work.
“It’s important to us to contribute to the communities in which we live and those with which we have a connection
through the business we do,” Mark says.