Published On: 13 February 2024Categories: Stories

Tradie-turned-chaplain, Darra Boerma, is using his practical skills to connect with students through building and art projects at Reece and Devonport High Schools.

Over the past few years, Darra and his coworkers have installed a kitchen, made seating, tables, log trucks and speaker boxes, and produced various artworks including signage for the school breakfast club.

The schools provide the materials, Darra the expertise, and the students the volunteer labour.

“Not only are they learning a skill, they are giving back to the school by making something practical and useful,” Darra said.

“It’s very rewarding for everyone.

“We get out the tools, put on some music and go to work. It’s just like a regular building site.”

Darra said his “apprentices” ranged from students who had an interest in art or learning a trade, while others struggled with learning in a classroom environment, or even coming to school due to anxiety.

“Being on the tools out of the classroom breaks down all the barriers and we can talk about life, how they are enjoying the work, what they would like to do when they leave school.”

He is joined on Mondays at Reece High by another chaplain, Sarah Groenewold, who uses the time to connect with students who will be attending Don College where she is also a chaplain.

Darra has extensive practical experience in the building trade as a bricklayer, carpenter and tiler.

He left the industry three years ago to work as a chaplain, such is his love for seeing youth thrive.

He’s also the father of three adult children and has served with his wife, Cathrin, in church youth programs.

“I love what I do. It’s a privilege to do life with young people who allow me to share some of their journey.”

By Paul O’Rourke

More Stories like this…