Adventist schools in Solomon Islands pay tribute to Australian volunteers

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Tenakoga students gather for a special program in their chapel.

Recent correspondence from the Solomon Islands Mission (SIM) education department has outlined the generous support that Adventist schools in the country have received from volunteers from Australian Adventist schools and churches over the past few years.

“The team[s have transformed] the schools into a [better] learning environment. The student and teacher wellbeing [has] been greatly improved in many ways,” the initial letter read.

SIM operates one of the largest private education bodies in Solomon Islands, with 24 high schools, 88 primary schools, 16 early childhood centres and two technical schools. There are more than 850 employed staff and 16,000 students enrolled in their institutions.

At least six schools have directly benefited from resources and visitations from Australian support teams since 2016, including Tenakoga Adventist Community High School (Guadalcanal Province), Bekabeka High School (Western Province), Puzivai High School (Choiseul Province), Patupaele High School (Western Province) and JAC High School (Western Province).

In a follow-up letter, SIM CFO Clifton Oliver outlined some of the specific donations and assistance provided and funded by volunteers:

Tenakoga students enjoying their new dining hall.
  • At least seven 40ft shipping containers of donated quality school items
  • Four prefabricated dining halls, each valued at more than $A100,000
  • Two ride-on mowers
  • Two pallets of carpet tile
  • More than 1000 litres of paint
  • A photocopy machine
  • Dozens of generators
  • Grass cutters
  • Two 100,000 litre water tanks
  • An almost-new tractor
  • Thousands of quality school desks and chairs

Mr Oliver specifically thanked Pastor Ray Eaton, his wife Hazel and Dr Alex Currie for leading out volunteer teams in Australia and donating money and supplies from their personal finances. A special mention was also made of Hills Adventist College (Sydney, NSW) who have sent a team of student volunteers to Tenakoga Adventist School each year since 2013. “Tenakoga school was basically built by this team,” the letter reads.

In a letter from Tenakoga, principal Gibson Apusae specifically congratulated Hills Adventist College and Australian volunteers for their “tremendous work [in] our Solo schools”, and lists the improvements made to the school since 2014:

  • 2014: 10 showers and 6 male toilets, 3 water pumps, electricity installed
  • 2015: 12 showers and 10 female toilets, chapel walls completed
  • 2017: library begun (completed in 2019), dining hall begun
  • 2018: 2 water tanks installed

Tenakoga only represents a fraction of the work done by volunteers from Australia, with other schools also receiving similar additions and help toward improving their resources and infrastructure.

“I am amazed and speechless to the amount of help [Australian teams] have rendered to this organisation since I joined SIM in 2016,” Mr Oliver wrote. “No words can express our heartfelt thanks. . . . this has resulted in improved academic standing and [a] positive teaching environment.”