Wow, we are on the countdown and school finishes for Christmas holidays on 23 November. What an amazing year it has been with changes to both teaching and hostel staff, new children joining us, several volunteers from NZ and UK, a team from Wainuiomata NZ, many donations of food, meals, and financial support, but most of all the prayer support from all around the world which has kept us operational. After 18 years under Jim and Marilyn Cooneys’s guidance, staff have adapted well to a new Director.
Jim and Marilyn are returning to Fiji for 2 weeks this month, to assist a team from Wycliffe Bible Translators, who over the next few years plan to translate the Bible into Fijian Sign Language. This will be a huge task for everyone involved and prayer for the project would be greatly appreciated. This is a wonderful opportunity for the Cooney’s to catch up with everyone they have worked with over many years.
For those who have visited us, you will be pleased to know that we now have “stop” signs (lollipops) for the children to cross Dhanji St on their way to and from school. Dhanji St, where our main hostel is situated, is extremely busy, and fast at drop-off and pick-up time. We, as hearing, rely heavily on sound to warn us of approaching vehicles, but for the deaf it is all by sight.
Over the past two years, a group of parents have been fund raising and have built a new fence around our main hostel. This is now finished and looks fantastic. It is also much safer for the children to play outside, and with the gate closed and Lexi, our dog on guard duty, the main hostel is more secure overnight.
On the first Saturday in November we held our first ever “Market Day”, which was also a celebration of the 27th anniversary of Harland Hostel and 21 years for the GSD. All hostel children and staff members were involved in many weeks of planning and were divided into three competing groups to see who could raise the most money. There was also another category for the best decorated tent combined with the best performed item. The ‘Canaan’ group made the highest profit and were presented with a trophy. Fiji Times were present, and the paper the next day featured photos of our ‘Raven’ and ‘Lion King’ groups. Parents donated produce from their villages and attended on the day to support their children. Three thousand dollars was raised and staff and children would like the money to be used to install hot water heaters in the showers and kitchen. During the cooler months, our children often come out of the shower shivering and staff are concerned that this is not good for their health.
Richard from NZ has been with us for 10 days and has worked tirelessly from early morning until dark. The children now have functional swings and one of our shower doors which was badly in need of replacing, has a custom-built door filling the gap. The photograph shows his farewell morning tea, put on by the hostel staff. Thank you, Richard, and we hope to see you return some time in the future.
Our prizegiving for the year was held on 7 November and a good number of parents attended to see their children receive their awards. Our youngest pupil, Myra, who is not yet three, walked up on her own for her handshake and to receive her certificate from the Chief Guest. As some parents travelled quite a distance to attend, their children have finished school early to return home with them, and avoid another trip during the last week of school. Our end of year party for the hostel children takes place tomorrow (9 Nov) and preparations are under way to make sure that everyone has a fun day. Tomasi will put the lovo down in the very early hours of the morning, for the food to be ready to eat at 12pm.
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to share what goes on at the GSD and Harland Hostels throughout the year and we wish you all a Happy Christmas with your family and friends. Thank you again for your support in so many ways.
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