Friday, October 28, 2011

Last Post

My last week on Tanna was full of tearful goodbyes and many many presents. Seeing all my friends and family in tears as the airplane took off left me crying my eyes out the whole 35 minutes to Vila. It was bittersweet. Although I will miss my people I feel like I have good closure and am at peace about it all. I'm a little terrified about the next year of my life....

Thanks for following me over the past two years and for all of your kind words and prayers. The past two years have been pretty amazing and I'm glad I was able to share a piece of my Peace Corps service with you. Please keep me and my travel buddy in your thoughts and prayers as we visit NZ, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam before heading back to the U.S.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sunday, October 23, 2011

September 30, 2011
And the week gets worse. Early this morning I heard two of my teachers talking outside my window. When I heard the name of one of our students and the word hospital I decided to get up and join the gossip. Someone in the village behind the school had told my neighbor this morning that Maureen, a 4th grade student was in town at the prayer house. Some students also said that they saw Maureen headed to town with her aunty and she could barely walk. And then my neighbor started telling the story she heard last night. Maureen had been raped by her father and a 16 year old boy in the community. No one had taken her to the hospital but she was taken to the woman who prays over people. I just about lost my mind. As soon as the headmaster arrived I told him I was going to find her and take her to the hospital. The 4th grade teacher and I jumped on a truck and headed to town. We found her at the prayer house lying on a mat with her aunty. As we began talking to her we discovered that this all started last year. When she was in 3rd grade her father started sexually abusing her and threatened to stab her with a knife if she told anyone. Now her body couldn’t take it anymore and her aunty and grandma called the police and filed a report. Unfortunately her father ran away before the police caught him. Maureen is now completely terrified that he will find her. She was taken to the hospital that day. When I saw how helpless she was and how scared she was to talk about it I started crying. A ten year old abused by her own father and his friend…and other family member just letting it happen for over a year……


September 29th, 2011
Eline is one of my fifth grade students who comes to read with me every week to work on her reading skills. Today she came to school with her parents, which never happens in this culture. The word quickly spread that she was pregnant. She’s 11 years old. Back in May, she started her first period and then didn’t have another one. Her mom started to get worried and took her to the hospital in town. She is 3 months pregnant and brave enough to still show her face at school. But today was her last day at Lamkail Primary School. This morning the school council had a meeting to decided what to do about the situation. They kicked her out (even though she could have finished the school year off). It’s kastom here that once you start having kids your education is over. Even though the law says that all children are given the right to free education through 6th grade. After discussing what happened with several teachers and clost friends of mine in the community I realized there was nothing I could do. The school council justified their decision by saying that Eline would be a bad influence on the other students and that if she came everyone would want to have babies too….ridiculous. The part about this story that makes me most upset is that Eline and I were just starting to really work together on reading. She was finally putting sounds together in her head. All that’s left to do now is pray that her 11 year old body survives the pregnancy and that this boy is good to her.

Spelling Bee Finally!

September 29, 2011
After postponing it a few times due to deaths in the village, Lamkail Primary School’s first ever spelling bee finally happened! The students spent all term 2 learning how to spell their lists of words. More importantly though they learned that spelling matters and they learned how to study. The morning of the Spelling Bee I was so proud when I saw groups of kids practicing their words with each other. Parents slowly trickled over to the school as classes made last preparations and the stage was flassed out. A generator, sound system, DJ, and a decorator were all hired for this event. The students showed up in their best clothes which for some meant a clean uniform. And before coming on stage they combed their hair and oiled their faces. One class at a time, they took the stage and took turns spelling their words into a microphone. For most students it was their first time holding a microphone. Each class had a trophy for 1st prize and I made bags of goodies for 2nd prize winners. I was also able to give every student who participated a silly band thanks to my lovely nieces. The best part of the whole day was seeing how proud parents and teachers were. Some of the old men in the community really got into it and were on the edge of their seats the whole time. You would have thought they were watching a football match.

Saturday, September 10, 2011