Fight NCDs: Our Common Enemy

Fight NCDs: Our Common Enemy

CLAN Youth Representative Joe Hansen spent 4 months as a volunteer teacher at St. Joseph the Worker Primary School in Nakasi, Fiji. This primary school has a long-term partnership with St. Anthony’s Catholic Primary School, which is located in Marsfield, New South Wales. Joe attended St. Anthony’s for his primary education and was thrilled to be able to connect with St Joseph’s during his Gap Year in 2017.

Original plans had Joe teaching English and Math as well as serving as a rugby coach. Upon arrival that quickly changed. St. Joseph’s has over one thousand students with class sizes averaging between 40-50 students. With a lack of funding and an overwhelming number of enrolled students, there were often classrooms in need of extra support. Joe was quickly called upon to assist with teaching English, Math, and Science across a range of year groups, as well as supervise sports, games and other physical activities in the playground.

A key event during Joe’s time with St. Joseph’s Primary School was the public speaking competition. Students of St. Joseph’s Primary School held a public speaking competition on the 31st of March 2017. Public speaking competitions are fairly popular in Fiji as they encourage students to practice their English and enhance their research skills.

As a volunteer teaching assistant at the school, Joe was asked to serve as a judge for this particular competition. Coincidentally, the topic chosen for the speaking competition was “Fight NCDs: Our Common Enemy”… Having volunteered with CLAN over several years, Joe was confident in the subject matter and keen to hear the children speak about this important topic. During his time volunteering at St. Joseph’s Primary School, Joe had quickly noted that Fijian children were generally very knowledgeable of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), as it had become a big part of their education. Teachers are committed to helping children learn how to prevent NCDs from an early age, given the increasingly heavy burden they place on society.

Given the topic of NCDs is so relevant to CLAN’s work, Joe connected with CLAN’s team to see what he could do to help increase awareness amongst the children and their broader communities. Dr. Armstrong suggested inviting a representative from the Australian High Commission to attend and serve as a judge alongside Joe. Dr. Armstrong and Joe viewed this as an opportunity to introduce the school children to the Australian High Commission, and also allow the High Commission to see firsthand how Fijian primary schools and children are leading the fight against NCDs.

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CLAN was thrilled Mr Mark Tamsitt was able to attend on behalf of the Australian High Commission. This was the first time the Australian High Commission had been to St. Joseph’s Primary School, and the staff and children were really excited to host Mr Tamsitt’s visit. As well as serving as a judge on the day, Mr Tamsitt also brought books as a gift for the school and helped Joe learn more about the various initiatives the Australian government supports in Fiji as well as other possible future funding that might be available to support St Joseph’s school into the future.

The speaking competition was a great success overall. There were 12 primary school students from year 5 year 8 involved, with three speakers participating from each year group. A female student from year 6 won the competition and Joe notes that her speech was well researched and full of facts from reputable sources like the World Health Organisation. Joe believes, “She won it due to her confidence and passion for what she was saying.”

An article by CLAN intern Stephanie Carde