As Jim and I head back to Fiji in just a couple of weeks, we thought we’d give you a brief update on the new school year.
Several of our students completed their programs in November, and have returned to their islands, all with good qualifications for work. Although jobs are scarce, even for the hearing, we trust that these young deaf men and women will soon find work placements. We may make a trip to Kiribati (formerly the Gilbert Islands) later in the year, to help in that effort.
Elena, who will turn 4 in April, is from Ra, a province in the north of Viti Levu. Her mom heard about the school, and contacted her sister in Suva to check it
out. Elena now lives in the main hostel, and though only 3, she is quickly learning sign language and loves school.
Lavenia will be 13 in April. This is her very first year in any school. Because she is shy, and not yet comfortable going into her classroom, her teacher allows her to watch from outside the door, until she feels safe enough to come inside. Lavenia lost her mom 3 years ago, and is being raised by her maternal grandparents. She lives at home, and her dad brings her back and forth to school each day. Lavenia was referred to us by an organization called “Project Heaven”, that tested her hearing in the village and diagnosed her deafness.
At one point we had decided not to take older students, because we felt it was late to give them an education. But we’ve changed our minds on that; we CAN give them a communication system and a community, and teach them about the Gospel, along with some basic reading and math.
We also lost two of our GSD staff members this year. Mere Masi, a veteran teacher, and Donald Reece, our computer teacher and Assistant Head Teacher, have both decided to leave teaching to take interpreting jobs in the high school this year. We wish them well, and are thankful for their years of service at GSD.
Despite the recent devastation by Cyclone Winston in Fiji, we are thankful that all in our school and hostels were kept safe, and damages to buildings and grounds were minimal. Please pray for those who have suffered great loss on the island. We are presently looking into ways to help. Many thanks to all who have contacted us with offers of prayer, concern, and help.
We are grateful for a good start to the new school year, and for the new students who have joined us. Please pray for these students as they adjust to life at school, away from their families. Many of our students as yet have no sponsors. If you are interested in sponsoring a child, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, check our website www.fijideaf.net for information and updates.
Jim and Marilyn
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