New dining hall for Solomons school

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Construction on the dining hall.

A new dining hall and kitchen have been constructed at Bekabeka Adventist Community High School on Gatokae Island (Solomon Islands).

An Australian fly’n’build team led by Pastor Ray Eaton completed the 500 square metre steel-framed structure in just three days. The footings had been poured earlier by another dedicated donor and member of the Solomon Islands education support team, Alan Pike.

“Our Solomon Islands education support team believe that improving school infrastructure improves the learning environment,” Pastor Eaton said. “Improved infrastructure attracts better students and teachers. We are committed to helping educate students to improve their physical, mental, social and spiritual wellbeing. We’ve built similar dining halls and kitchens at Tenakoga and Puzivai Adventist high schools and academic results have increased.”

Pastor Ray Eaton, leader of the Australian fly’n’build team, and his wife Hazel.

Bekabeka Adventist Community High School has 270 students in Forms 1 to 6. As part of the Seventh-day Adventist education system, it provides quality education and emphasises the values of academic success, respect and a strong work ethic in preparation for a productive life after the student graduates. Challenging and encouraging its students to know Christ is also a critical part of its education ethos.

Principal Encie Dionie is excited by the construction of the new dining hall. “The students currently have no place to eat their meals,” she said. “Meals are eaten in student dormitories, in classrooms, in the market place or they just sit or stand around on the campus. It’s unfortunate that the students do not have the opportunity to eat and socialise together as socialisation is an important part of student life.

“We are grateful to the Australian team who have contributed the finances, their time and expertise for this important project. We’d especially like to thank Neil Brown from Professional Shed Installation who provided his expertise in shed construction.”

Principal Encie Dionie and Neil Brown from Professional Shed Installation.

The dining hall/kitchen project also had its local supporters. Rolland Piko did the initial levelling of the site. Pacific Everest Lumber built the wharf for Bekabeka and completed and levelled the dining hall/kitchen site for the pouring of the slab. Special thanks go to Kendrine Philip from Pacific Everest Lumber and his team and crew who built and gave a new facelift to the seafront of Bekabeka. With the “wharf” in place, the landing crafts are now able to unload cargo for the school right on site, making it easier for unloading materials from Honiara.

The construction of the concrete floor for the dining hall/kitchen was led by Bekabeka staff Milton Alick Roy and Ferol Kituru, and they were well supported by the local community at Penjuku Village. Bekabeka students and staff carried sand and gravel up the steep slope from the Marovo Lagoon. In addition, they also carried the 8.5 tonnes of steel and roofing for the dining hall/kitchen structure up the steep slope from the lagoon to the construction site about 400 metres from the wharf.

Australian fly’n’build team, Christine Golenia, Daniel Golenia, Ken Long, Neil Brown and Wilfred Pascoe, with Clifton Oliver, CFO of Solomon Islands Mission.

Neil Brown from Professional Shed Installation contributed financially and provided his expertise in construction. “When Pastor Eaton showed me the needs at Bekabeka I felt compelled to be involved. I feel that I have been blessed and wanted to make a contribution to a school community which needed improved infrastructure.” Mr Brown was also involved in the construction of the dining hall/kitchen at Puzivai Adventist High School.

Pastor Irving Vagha, departmental leader for Sabbath School, Stewardship and Personal Ministries, congratulated the Solomon Islands support team on their construction of the largest steel structure and dining hall on the island of Gatokae. “We thank you for your commitment, the contribution of your finances and expertise to this important piece of school infrastructure,” Pastor Vagha said. “The support of our Australian friends is critical in improving the education and learning environment at Bekabeka Adventist Community High School.”