If you lived in a place where there is no electricity, if don’t have a job, or if you did have a job the average wage was $1.35US per hour, would your child have an iPad? Not likely. What about pen and paper?. Those resources cost and paper is usually only used once. Sustainably, chalkboards are a welcomed resource that have a longer lifespan than pen and paper do.
Namoru Village, South Santo
is the home of Johnas – the young man who Lav Kokonas connected with during 2014. Back then Johnas was identified by World Vision Vanuatu, as a young person in the South Santo area of Vanuatu, who had the skills to train with the Vanuatu Agricultural College. Lav Kokonas have supported Johnas through this education and with his business ventures. I told the story of how I came up with the idea of chalkboards for Johnas’ village school in December 2014. Older students at Namoru Primary school, may have access to pens / pencils and paper, but for the younger students, including those at the relatively newly developed Kindergarten, chalkboards are their writing medium. Eventually chalkboards will wear out, but not as quickly as paper.
I was fortunate to be able to collaborate in Nelson with Cooper Webley joiners and Whakatu Rotary Club to have 100 chalkboards produced from recycled plywood and painted by volunteers from the Whakatu Rotary Club of Nelson. Shipping was arranged to coincide with my October visit, but just in case, I carried a few in my suitcase. I was able to take my “spares” with me to Santo and present to the Header Teacher and his assistant.
Also presented were French editions (Namoru is a francophone village) of two volumes of Nabanga Pikinini books. These are adaptations of Kastom (Custom) stories from many islands around Vanuatu and are illustrated in such a way, that the stories come alive.
Since my return to New Zealand, Johnas has contacted me to let me know that the chalkboards have now arrived in the village, along with the 800+ pieces of chalk – plenty to go around the pikinini for quite some time, in addition to 2 large boxes of coloured chalk which will be welcomed at the Kindergarten. I am grateful to the Nelson family had donated the price of the shipping from Port Vila to Santo – thanks for helping Lav Kokonas to “Pay it forward in Vanuatu” The Kindergarten is still in need of resources – the children attending are so enthusiastic and sung a song for me when I visited – their voices were loud and clear and the lack of resources in their building wasn’t dampening their high spirits.
I admire the desire of so many ni Vanuatu families to ensure that their pikinini are educated, and despite the obvious lack of resources, the children (and teachers) remain enthusiastic to learn. If these chalkboards are a success, perhaps there is a way to have them made in Santo so other schools can benefit from this learning tool – the iChalkboard.
Mi lukim yu