Projects on hold
We wanted to let you know that JSF is going to put on hold all our literacy activities in Vanuatu and specifically on Tanna Island, until the first quarter of next year. The reasons for this are:
Time is needed to recover from the trauma of the night on Tanna when local youths threw petrol bombs at our bungalows and lit numerous fires around the resort while we were sleeping.
The Police Investigations into these youths, who maliciously lit the fires, putting our lives at risk, need to be completed.
We are also awaiting investigations into the alleged behaviour, deception and inaction of the Tanna Police before, during and after the horrific event.
Time is needed to recover from the physical injuries sustained by some of the volunteers on the night of the fires (e.g. face, neck and hand injuries after rocks were thrown by the youths while fleeing burning bungalow; broken foot bone while running to safety; damaged (not permanent) lungs from breathing in petrol fumes/flames).
We know that the horrible and malicious crimes of this group do not reflect the attitudes and actions of the community as a whole. But it is important for us to take this time to heal. Once we have recovered and have all the necessary information, we will make decisions about how we support literacy in Vanuatu in the future.
It breaks our hearts that the children are the ones missing out, but as instructed when flying… you must first put the oxygen mask on yourself before you can help anyone else!!
I would like to take this opportunity to provide and update you on our accomplishments since Cyclone Pam:
The roof is back on the School Library. After only 9mths of being officially opened, the roof of our Library was ripped off into the Neverland by Cyclone Pam, but after some Heidi-style-discussions with the ADF I was luckily able to get this sorted. It is now used as a makeshift classroom, replacing the two classrooms that were completely destroyed.
Our presence and involvement ensured ICPS was the first school on Tanna to be operational, providing a safe haven for local children, by adding normality to their day.
JSF have provided daily school lunches for 220 students and teachers from June - August. The lunches have removed the burden on families who have experienced depleted food supplies after the cyclone, and it has also improved school attendance and classroom alertness. We realised after a few attempts that we needed to air-freight this food in, because the ships were so unreliable.
Resources for the Library
JSF has chosen, paid and transported over 1000 new library books to replace those destroyed by Cyclone Pam. The sheer excitement and surprise of the ICPS children when I told them this will be one of my fondest memories.
We also have supplied dozens of protective storage tubs to store all the Library books prior to the upcoming cyclone season.
Resources for the Students and Teachers
We supplied 220 Literacy packs jam-packed with pictorial dictionaries, workbooks, and stationery items such as pens, pencils, glue, rulers, erasers and much much more, to replace what the students lost.
We supplied 9 big boxes of stationery and resources for the teachers.
Resources for the School
We have organised and paid for local electricians from Port Vila to complete an electrical assessment of the whole school in order to return it to a safe standard. We will be following through with this in 2016.
The provision of building, painting, cleaning and gardening materials.
The provision of paint for the classrooms and the Library, which are ‘worse for wear’ since the cyclone.
We continued to pay the Librarian (despite the Library being destroyed) right up till when she went overseas on a scholarship.
We may or may not have had a hand in this, but the Vanuatu Government has chosen ICPS for the rebuild of Classroom 5 and 6, which is terrific.
During the “Return to Literacy” trip in August
JSF volunteers cleared, weeded and prepared the school garden for the planting of seasonal, local vegetables.
JSF volunteers prepared all the walls of Classroom 3 and the Library for painting so they could become better learning environments.
JSF volunteers read stories, played games and exchanged skills with the children.
SBS World News produced a story about JSF highlighting the incredible support we have provided to Tanna since Cyclone Pam.
You can see photos of all the good work undertaken during our Return To Literacy volunteer on Facebook
JSF will not be taking any more donations until we decide how to move forward with literacy education in Vanuatu. However, JSF remains committed to working with the communities in Vanuatu to improve literacy outcomes for all children as the means of empowering them to improve socio-economic conditions for families, communities, countries and future generations.