Excited smiling faces - all 300 of them
Thursday, 4 August 2016
We took off with the dirt roads causing dust behind us, and as we drove past lush green vegetation, as children and families waved and called hello. There was lots of laughter, photos and video that was taken, until 30 minutes later we stopped at the main town of Lenekal to stock up on fresh fruit/veges. A second truck was hailed down and we were able to spread out into 2 trucks for the final leg to the school. We drove about 1 hour to Kapalpal School, again soaking in all the sights and sounds along the way.
As we pulled into the school, excited smiling faces ran to meet us, and the views over the ridge, school and ocean were spectacular. We unloaded our gear, found our place of residence, some in rooms, others in tents.
The days generally started with an early wake up around 6-6/.30am to crowing roosters, bleating goats and the sounds of Andrew cooking porridge and toast for our breakfast. School was to start at 8am, and work was to begin.
By now, some of the 300 children started arriving at school on foot over the hills and up and down the steep tracks to school, some having walked up to 3 hours. Morning assembly was held and devotion was an important start to the school day, with a bible message and songs shared during assembly. Children would then scatter to their allocated class rooms and the school day began. Approx 60 students aged 4-6 attend 2 separate morning kinder sessions. When not in a session, they occupy themselves around the school yard, playing games and laughing. They were provided lunch at midday, then they all waited around the school until 3pm to walk home with their older siblings. Their independent skills are astounding!
Meanwhile, while the kinder and school day ran, we all worked hard building, roofing and cladding classrooms. Some of us painted classroom walls, and we also painted and renovated the kindy….more on that later.
Some days we taught English, maths, cartooning and drawing, and bible stories to various classes and age groups – we learnt very fast to think on our feet and be flexible to anything we were asked to help out with.
Andrea’s skills were put to use throughout the school – in classrooms, on window shutters and on a new school sports banner! The school is now surrounded by encouraging Bible verses.
Each day continued with medical aid in the clinic, building, teaching, and painting. We named Thursday “Machete Thursday” as you can see in the photo top left. We are not sure if this was to do with a class subject on agriculture, or if it was just to clear the way on their walk to school! Kittens were found under the school, the village pig was fed very well with all our vege scraps and the occasional earthquake was felt on several occasions. The background sounds of each day, were generators running, an erupting volcano in the background and farm animals. This all became ‘part of the day” at Kapalpal School. The odd belly bugs were overcome and we all fell into bed each night after dinner and the daily readings had been done. We fought tents that struggled to stay upright as they were blown in strong winds, but we became stronger, braver and more confident each day.
Sundays consisted of preparing a few pots of stew and rice in the morning, as we had a communal lunch with the villagers and brothers and sisters after the memorial meeting. The meeting was held inside a classroom one week, then outside in the beautiful sun and creation the following week. Approx 60 people including kids attended, songs were sung, exhorts were given in English and translated into Bislama for the locals, then lunch was shared amongst everyone. The villagers also brought pots of rice, vege stew and root vegetables to share. As guests, we were served first, so we took smaller portions to ensure the food would go around, however, as we finished our small portions, we were quickly ushered to the closest rain tank and instructed to wash our crockery/cutlery, and hand it onto the locals so they too could eat! So we learnt, that next time, a slightly larger portion would be acceptable! There are currently 17 baptised members and at least 10 very interested friends who attend this ecclesia, plus many other from surrounding villages.
The afternoons include a Bible discussion class for adults run by Terry Nutter, and a Sunday School story and activity run by us…..generally with ages ranging from 2 to teenagers!
So that’s a ‘day in the life of Kapalpal’ plenty going on, and help is needed all year round.