Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Project 5: Nomuka Island, Tonga, South Pacific

The kids poured out of the classroom, first assembling with their teachers to greet us and then dispersing to bring bench seats outside so we could sit in the shade of a very impressive mango tree.  We broke them into groups and each of us, armed with books, sat to read with them.  Emi, apparently having finished her books began to sing with the students.  Her voice, full of joy and laughter rang out across the field and attention was soon lost as the children’s eyes, slowly at first, and then all at once, drifted from the pages of books to watch Emi with her beautiful dress and dancing hands entertain her group.  Unable to compete I conceded. “Should we sing?” I asked the children seated before me.  “I can teach you a song, or you can teach me, or we can join Emi’s group?”  The children looked at me, then looked at the books, and the boy in blue, speaking for them all said “No.  Read”.  And so I did.


Kaylie of Whale Discoveries introduces Ocean Warriors Plastic in Paradise to the Peace Corps volunteer at Nomuka
My reading group at the school
The kids do whale tales with the Wild Awake travellers
Kids enjoying books
Didi, one of the Wild Awake travelers, reads Ocean Warriors to the kids
Didi, one of the Wild Awake travelers, reads Ocean Warriors to the kids
I was surprised at how few books there were available in Tongan 
I am incredibly inspired to make more books like this - in the local language!!
The Wild Awake travelers choose books to read with their groups
Me with the local teachers, the Peace Corps volunteer and Ocean Warriors Plastic in Paradise
Kids at Nomuka bring bench seats outside
One of the schools classrooms
Thank you all so much for helping me get these books (and more) to a school on Nomuka Island, Tonga

At the beginning of September Nathan and I were lucky enough to visit the kingdom of Tonga to swim with the beautiful Humpbacks.  Just wow. We booked our trip through Wild Awake Travel, founded by an old friend.  Fiona specializes in creating experiences that combine delicious wildlife interactions, mindful community projects, and yoga if you wish to partake. During our trip we had the opportunity to pay a visit to the local school.

The original plan had been to build a seating area out of eco-bricks (!!!) at the school but due to the less than ideal weather conditions we were unable to do so.  On the morning of our visit, however, the sun came out and we were able to spend a great couple of hours reading, singing and playing games with the kids.

We took a few copies of Ocean Warriors Plastic in Paradise (which garnered quite a bit of attention), and a handful of other story books and resources as well as some notebooks.  The teachers were so grateful for the gift quoting the same difficulties in obtaining resources that we find in remote locations in Indonesia. 

On the way out of Tongatapu, because the books had been so gratefully received, one of the other Wild Awake travelers, Emi, suggested that we prepare a care package of stationary to send back to the school.  Which we did.

It was interesting for me to discover limited books in the Tongan language at the local bookstore and I’m super keen to remedy that.  But the kids learn English from their very early school years so we took some English books with bright illustrations and photos which were also very well received.
Thank you so much to Whale Discoveries for caring so much for the community in your areas, to Wild Awake Travel for sharing this opportunity to contribute to another island school, and to all of you who continue to make this giving possible.  You’re awesome!

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