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Published on 5th January 2012
More than 500 children’s books are now on their way to tiny Etemwarore School in the Solomon Islands, thanks to a $6,000 grant organised by VSA volunteer Laurie Williams.
The books include titles by some of New Zealand’s best-known children’s writers, such as Lynley Dodd, Joy Cowley and Margaret Mahy. They left New Zealand before Christmas and are expected to make their way to the school on the remote island of Makira by the beginning of the new school year.
Laurie applied for the grant through the Norman Kirk Memorial Trust after working with Etemwarore School principal, Edrine Waokahi, during a two-month assignment as a school leader mentor in Makira Ulawa province last year.
Laurie, who is now working as school leader mentor based in Honiara, worked with Edrine and two other head teachers in Makira, helping them develop their role as school leaders. He was impressed by her motivation and enthusiasm, despite the school’s lack of resources.
“As a principal Edrine is really up for new ideas about good practice. She and her staff are keen for their students to learn and go places.”
He says at the moment the only books Etemwarore School has are the regulation readers issued by the Solomon Islands Ministry of Education.
“It is a school with very, very few other facilities or resources, and no real way of getting them.”
The Norman Kirk Memorial Trust was set up in 1976 to commemorate the former Labour prime minister, Norman Kirk. It distributes education scholarships and grants to people and groups in New Zealand and the South Pacific.
Each year $6,000 from the trust is allocated to a VSA-related project. Previous projects include a new playground at Matauala School in Tokelau, and a new student learning centre at St Patrick’s College in Vanuatu.
Auckland-based company Read Pacific selected and arranged shipping for the books for Etemwarore School. The company has also donated an additional 65 books, as well as posters and ballpoint pens.
Laurie Williams hopes to make it back to Maikira to help the staff at the school set up a basic library system, and work out the best way of storing the books in the humid tropical conditions.