I was so impressed when I visited the primary school at Teouma Green Hill on the 22nd of April 2015. It had only been a few weeks since Cyclone Pam had devastated the southern half of the country. The upper Teouma farming community had been destroyed by the category 5 cyclone. The Green Hill School, started by Pastor Charley Job, had lost every building, most of their furniture, and books to the violent winds. But the headmaster had rallied his teachers and the community and by April 22nd they were back in class. This was truly a remarkable sight as teachers propped their blackboards on the ground and students huddled together on the grass to do their lessons. A hodgepodge of donated plastic tarps provided a roof over each class. It was an amazing effort to move on after an unprecedented disaster and I knew that others would want to assist and encourage such resilience.
The first commitment to finance a new class building for these children came from the Australian Christian Churches International Relief (ACCIR) and I am forever grateful to them for their partnership and trust. A building plan for a simple 3 classroom building was drawn up and paperwork signed.
Once the funds were in hand, the process of purchasing the materials and getting them up the 4WD bush road began. The delivery process took much longer than expected. Most local businesses did not want to send their delivery trucks off road. A big thank you to MCI for being the only coral and sand distributor willing to deliver all the way to the school site. Wilco Hardware and Bluescope Roofing also graciously delivered. But for the remaining tons of materials, cement, wood, rebar, and eventually water, local pick-up truck drivers had to be hired to make the deliveries.
A couple of months after Cyclone Pam, Vanuatu was hit by an ElNino drought and all rain ceased. Most people in Vanuatu are not connected to a water supply but rather depend on catching rainwater. The prolonged drought greatly improved the delivery conditions of the road to Teouma which most of the time is a slippery, rutted four wheel drive mud road. On the hand, the drought has prevented the market gardening community of Teouma from regaining its normal cash income and caused great hardship. Crops were replanted promptly post-cyclone but the harvest has been meager.
On November 23, 2015, reconstruction officially started on the Green Hill Primary school. The community had fundraised to purchase tools, buy fuel for the generator to run the cement mixer, and host temporary construction workers.
Everyone had been stocking water in tanks and containers to use in the pouring of the cement floor. The water on hand ran out half way through pouring the cement slab. Again the community rallied by filling water containers at a nearby lake and bringing it to the worksite. The workmen continued to mix cement as the people brought water. The cement slab was finished this past week. The rest of the building is a wood construction so there will be less need of water.
If you would like to assist the rebuilding of the Green Hill Primary School, we are currently needing funds to buy school desks and chairs. A second classroom building will also be started in early 2016 and about $40,000 US is needed.