Then, instead of the usual Fiji sunshine, we came back to what has been a long season of rain and drizzle--- but we didn’t mind all that much, since it made for cooler temperatures and lower humidity; comfortably pleasant for us, while the Fijians donned their winter caps and jackets!
We also arrived to an immaculately clean and neat house, thanks to the hard work of Assistant Head Teacher Donald Reece and the Junior boys in his care, who had been living there in our absence.
After a shower and a quick run for a few groceries, we headed over to the school to greet everyone, and happened upon a late afternoon parent meeting. What an encouragement that was! The attendance on this very rainy afternoon was among the best ever! Unaisi’s mom had driven all the way from Nadi (4 hours each way) in the rain, to attend. Halamehi, our deaf librarian, gave an inspiring talk on the importance of reading and sharing books with your deaf child.
For me, the highlight of the meeting was a very emotional response from Silina’s mom, who stood up at the end of the meeting and with tears of joy, expressed her gratitude to God for The Gospel School for the Deaf, for giving hope to her daughter for a better future. Her daughter Salina, now 10, has been with us for 5 years. Salina is a bright girl with a winning smile, who loves school! Her mom expressed particular appreciation for the creative curriculum, with related field trips and “hands on” approach to learning.
She was thankful too, for Bible teaching that her church was not able to provide for her deaf daughter. She also was grateful
for the provision of sign language classes for parents, where
she was improving in her ability to communicate with her deaf
daughter, and also receiving support from staff and other parents. The positive atmosphere in the room was a wonderful welcome back! We were grateful as well, to see how wonderfully Mrs. Mudaliar, as new Head Teacher, not only led the meeting, but had faithfully led the school throughout the year. We are so blessed to have her!
We are slowly catching up on happenings during our time away---here are a few:
With an influx of new young children (13 at the moment in Preschool and K-1 Classes), we were pleased to welcome Diana Prasad (left), former early childhood educator at Gospel Primary School. She is working with 6 of our youngsters, while receiving training in deaf education. Sanita Nakama also joined the staff as Teacher Assistant. Sanita is the sister of Miriama, who went through our program and now works in the Main Hostel, supervising children there. Sanita also lives in the hostel and helps out there as well.
Lavenia Colati (deaf), who was a student in Marilyn’s first class at GSD in 2002, completed our program and then went on to high school. She came back to work for us this year as Teacher Assistant in Class K-1 with Teacher Felicity Ali. The children are learning about children and families around the world, currently learning about Mexico. (Check out their great adobe house!) Pictured below are 4 of our newest students. Atunaisa, age 3 (left) is our youngest student ever. His brother Peter (3rd from the left) is 6. Both boys are from Koro Island, and live in the Main Hostel during the school year. How difficult it is for parents to give up their children to our care; a big sacrifice, in order for them to receive an education.
Peter adores his younger brother, and watches out for him. He is proud of his new school, and is helping his little brother adjust to the daily routines. The two girls, Angela (age 9) and Akesa (age 6) are both from Tailevu. Angela’s mom happened to see our school sign from the road one day, and stopped in to inquire. Angela was 8 years old, living in the village with her mom, and had never attended school.
Angela has some special needs, but after only one term in school she has shown a great deal of
improvement. When she went home on school break, the villagers were amazed to see her signing and communicating. They couldn’t believe how much she had learned in such a short time at school. Angela too, felt proud that she could finally attend school like the other children in the village.