Going to school The Solomon Island way

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Oceania » Solomon Islands » Guadalcanal
August 6th 2009
Published: August 6th 2009
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Madu in uniformMadu in uniformMadu in uniform

Ready for school - Madu is waiting for her friends on the beach. Notice how dark it is - It is just getting light the sun is not up
On Tuesday morning I walked with the children to school. What an adventure and again another insight to their culture. We started our walk to school about 6.20am as school at 7.30am. Madu called me at 6.15 to leave for school - we headed out over a well worn path. To set the scene - it is light but the sun is not up yet, three children 8, 9, 10, yrs head out on their own- no parental supervision. On our way there were a few streams which we crossed by walking on a 6” plank or a long log. To the kids it was hop skip and a jump but when I was confronted with it I hesitated and very gingerly crossed the stream - once I actually walked in the stream rather than on the bridge. They were dressed in uniform - white shirts and purple shorts for the boys and skirts for the girls. Madu wore a shirt which came down to her thighs - probably her brothers. The skirt was at least 3 sizes too big and came down to her lower calf, which she had to pick up so the dew didn’t make it all wet. The other notable feature was they were all barefoot, no problem walking over stony ground and glass didn’t seem to worry them

We walked along this path for about 10 mins where we emerged onto a beach. We stopped while we collected some more cildren including her brother who spent the night there. When we resumed we were joined by 3 more boys and 2 girls. We walked along the beach for a ways and then turned inland along open ground. The kids were in single file - all chatting and singing away. It was truly a refreshing sight. We walked up over a ridge and down onto a beach. Finally we came to the village of Halvo where the school is. It was tidy village with wooden houses on stilts, a few scattered building made of concrete probably community building such as school and church. We saw several other children waiting for school to beginning. When school starts the first job for the children is to tidy the village i.e pick up trash and weeds. Then they start school. I had a wander around the village saw the church and a few other community buildings. I felt everyone one was staring at me - I smiled and said Good morning to which they responded Hello.

I timed the walk on the way back - 35-40 mins walk at a good pace. I saw remnants of World War 2 jeeps and tanks rusting In the water. Charlie didn’t have school his teacher had gone to talogie for how long no one knows so he accompanied me back to the boat. We were joined by a Halvo villager who worked at Avi-Avi we had a little chat. It was an extremely memorable experience one I am sure will saty with me for the rest of my life. It will be a few week before I put anything on the blog - see you then.


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