By Leigh Pirie
Months ago a friend passed on an email from another friend who had done some volunteer work here in the Solomon’s with a woman who had built a school. I started looking into the school and contacted her and now I am on her school board. Strange development, really.
Bev Komasi is a woman here in Honiara who is a bit of a force of nature really. About 10 years ago her eyes were opened to the need of the kids living in the Ranadi dump after the tensions. She decided that education was the way to change their futures. In an amazing development she started a school under a mango tree using the straws from brooms, banana leaves and crushed up ashes and water to get the kids starting to write. Just amazing! She told me that the kids were almost like animals in their behavior as they were forced to scavenge amongst the rubbish at the tip for food, and their family lives were often fraught with violence, alcoholism and physical, emotional and sexual abuse.
Over the past few years she has fought the government for recognition, resources, land, support, teachers, funding – absolutely everything for a school to be created for these forgotten children. I had emailed her and asked what resources I could possibly bring over that would be useful for her school. She had replied that the basics like pens, pencils, sharpeners etc are always in need. Also paints and sports equipment.
After explaining the situation at the school where I was working, St Edmund’s College in Canberra, the wonderful boys of Clancy House (as well as some generous staff) donated over 1200 pens and pencils in only two days. They brought them from home, they dug around in their lockers, they looked under desks, they even emptied out pencil cases that had been left in classrooms for far too long.
When I got here Bev called me for a meeting so that we could chat about how I could contribute to the school. To cut a long story a little shorter, I am now one of the members of thefirst ever school board for the Mercy School that hopes to begin to develop consistent policies and direction for the school, particularly for when Bev Komasi is not at the helm and is away studying herself and possibly moving to America for a year with a scholarship awarded by the USA High Commission.
I am at once excited, overwhelmed, daunted and empowered by what I have heard and what I am now a part of.
You can read the full version of Leigh’s article and see more photos by visiting her blog: http://www.milointhesolomons.blogspot.com