Eight months after Tropical Cyclone Gita devastated Tonga, life has mostly returned to normal for students at Seventh-day Adventist schools in the Pacific Island nation.
During a visit to Tonga earlier this month, Trans Pacific Union Mission associate education director Mele Vaihola found that most of the damaged buildings had been rebuilt and students were excited to be in their new classrooms.
Beulah College was one of the worst affected by the cyclone, with many of the buildings suffering significant roof damage, three staff houses rendered uninhabitable and the industrial arts building destroyed. Beulah Primary and Hilliard Memorial Adventist School were also badly damaged. While the schools awaited rebuilding work, tents became makeshift classrooms.
“Most of the buildings at Beulah College have been completed except for two staff houses, a maintenance building and the industrial arts building,” Ms Vaihola said.
At Hilliard Memorial school, a new classroom has been completed and was officially opened by the Prime Minister last month.
“I feel so happy moving to our new classroom,” said Simon, a Year 1 student. “It has been too long learning in the small tent. My classmates and I got so cold in the morning and so hot in the afternoon in the small tent and it was hard for us to concentrate while our teacher was giving instructions.
“We were so happy when our new classrooms were completed and we were told to move in.”
Ms Vaihola said it has been a tough journey for the schools. “We thank God for His faithfulness and we look forward to seeing what He has in store for our work in Tonga,” she said. “Let’s continue to remember Tonga Mission in our prayers as they complete rebuilding.”