The end of the year celebrations brought together many of our parents, and resulted in the formation of a very active parent group.
Hostel Director Tema Toaisi had a great idea! As the end of the year approached, she began to plan for the annual ‘break up’ party, and wanted to do something different. She decided to involve the parents. Tema speaks eight different languages, and has great rapport with parents. Several responded immediately, and were excited to be entrusted with the responsibility of planning an event. Some parents even came from other islands, just to plan. Four year old Elena’s mom led the meetings.
rho rho, ota, and a host of other traditional foods, with fresh pineapple, watermelon, and ice cream for dessert. Specific foods were brought in from different islands----the ota from Beqa (they say it’s the best!) They know their foods here!! For the program, we enjoyed short speeches, traditional dances for entertainment, some Christmas caroling, and a gift exchange for the children. There was time to mingle, and get to know one another during and after the meal.
As the party ended, all the parents got together again, to elect officers and plan for additional meetings to help support their children in the hostels. Kuini’s dad suggested they start a garden at the Junior boys hostel, to help the boys grow some of their own food. He offered to bring dalo plants to the next meeting, to get them started. Tavaita’s uncle was chosen to head up the parent group as president for next year. Ema’s mom will be the treasurer, and Elena’s mom the secretary.
Most of the parents had never met before the meetings, and began developing friendships, and sharing stories about their children. Merekarita’s dad was in tears as he shared with another parent how amazed he was at the change he had seen in his daughter after just one year in school. Another parent closed the program in prayer, thanking God for Gospel School for the Deaf, and the opportunities that were now available in Fiji for his son.
We were blessed by the gratitude of these parents, and their enthusiastic desire to support their children in school. That has not always been the case. We have had parent meetings at school in the past, but they were sporadically attended. But thanks to Tema, who actually involved the parents in planning an event together, the group is now off and running, taking seriously their role of supporting both school and hostels. Vinaka vaka levu, both to Tema and these wonderful parents!