It’s lunchtime at the Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF) Igam Barracks Primary School, sounds of children playing and laughing fill the playground and weathered buildings.
Classrooms nearby have a different sound, those of hammering, drilling and sawing with curious children peering through the windows eager to participate in the action.
Royal Australian Air Force and United States personnel are working hard on the tools to refurbish the school as part of the Engineering Civic Action Program for Exercise Pacific Angel (PAC ANGEL) 19-4 in Lae, Papua New Guinea.
The PNGDF nominated Lae schools, Bowali Primary School, Hounville Primary School, Igam Barracks Primary School and Butibam Primary School, to receive materials and engineering support, both for community-based construction and multi-nations highly skilled workforce to upgrade schools.
Royal Australian Air Force Sergeant (SGT) Leigh Eastwell, Project Manager from No. 65 Squadron, said all trades were on hand to help strengthen the foundations for learning.
“These classrooms were quite rundown but we’re putting in plenty of elbow grease to improve the environment for the local kids,” SGT Eastwell said.
“We have electricians fixing the lights and fans, plumbers re-connecting piping to improve the toilet facilities, carpenters replacing the broken doors and local contractors repairing the roof and external walls.
“We’re working with our PNGDF and United States mates, Air Force and Marine Corp, to renovate and improve current facilities.
“We have different uniforms, but we work seamlessly together.
“I’ve been to PNG six times throughout my Air Force career, I enjoy the friendliness of the people especially the children.
“Catching up with the PNG locals, and my USAF and PNGDF Brethren is always a highlight.”
PNGDF Electrician, Sapper Arnold Numa, is part of a five-strong team on the school project.
“Working with Australia and the United States is a great and different experience, we learn from each other about our skills and culture,” SPR Numa said.
“The children are very excited to see us, some of them have never seen a uniform before especially from other countries.
“It’s my first time on Pacific Angel and I would really like to do many more together.”
The Bowali Primary School facilities and Igam Primary School upgrades are complete with the USAF working closing with PNGDF and the local PNG community to ensure the other schools will be refurbished in the near future.
Pacific Angel builds relationships with the PNG people to increase partnership capabilities in the event of a real-world disaster.