The auspicious date of Friday the 13th arrived which heralded the opening of the repaired school building and our little library.
The opening was a big occasion. We had special guests from Vila and all over the island, as well as friends from Kingsway School in NZ who came and put the finishing touches of a coat of paint on the refurbished classroom. Lou (our in country manager) came and was honoured by the men of Nikaura. They carried her around the school grounds in a “throne” behind the custom entrance and singing.
Chief Timothy made an animated speech:
Thank you gifts were given to the special guests:
Lou and Deb opened the library:
The builders and Nic in front of the “fruits” of their labour:
We had “uniforms” specially made, don’t we look spiffy!
Leipakoa made a fantastic speech in which she referred to a banana tree that one of the men had cut from her garden and placed in the middle of the field in front of the building...
Leipakoa told this story:
When she was walking back from first talking to Deb on the phone (when we were still in Australia but preparing to come to Vanuatu) she met the late school council president’s wife walking the other way. The woman was carrying small banana plants and Leipakoa asked her what she was doing with them. She replied that she was just taking them somewhere else to plant so Leipakoa asked if she could have one to put into her garden to mark the day she first spoke with her Australian volunteer. Leipakoa explained to the coucil president’s wife that she was just starting something and she wanted to see if, like the banana, the aim of having a volunteer come to Nikaura would grow into something. And now both the banana plant and the volunteer project have borne fruit. (I cried the whole way through it – Deb)