So many people who have traveled with me to the Solomons over the past 16 years have asked "What can we do to help?"
I am convinced that the key to helping the islanders move from a purely subsistence and fairly isolated economy to being a part of the "modern world " WITHOUT LOSING THEIR TIES WITH NATURE AND THEIR PRECIOUS SENSE OF COMMUNITY lies in educating their young people and creating small, ecologically sensitive tourist businesses for them to come home to own and operate. These, in turn, will help create small side businesses- village stores, bakeries, farm markets, health clinics, etc. that will provide further gainful employment without everyone having to leave home and go to the big city.
To that end, we have committed ourselves to improving the educational system in our area, which comprises the villages of Peava, Biche, Kavolavata, and Sobiro and Beka Beka Secondary School. I am continually astounded at how much the teachers accomplish with little more than a chalkboard and dedication. Textbooks are few and generally outdated. Teachers still do individual lesson plans BY HAND. Everything is in short supply- pens ( biros), paper,- everything.
As a part of our commitment, we are forming "Friends of Peava" for those who wish to contribute financially to our endeavors. We already have a bank account here and will open one in Solomons as soon as I get there.
Barbara will be our US Agent, and any contributions may be sent to her at:
Friends of Peava
c/o Barbara Lehman
76-6246 Ali'I Drive #414
Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
We thought it would be fun if people had options as to where they would like their money to go. So if you chose to become a:
FOP ( Friend of Peava) – your donation will go into a general fund to be used as needed for school construction ( our new kindy has priority, with a new middle school right behind it), textbooks and materials. Your dollars will go far, as virtually all labor and much of the building material is community donated.
SOPS- ( Supporter of Peava Scholarships)- education above Standard (Grade) 6 is not free in the Solomons. Only recently has it been free from Kindy through Standard 6. Kids have to pass an exam to be eligible for Standards 7 and 8, and then another for Forms 1-4. Then, their parents and/or employed siblings have to band together to pay the school fees, which range from $200 USD to $1200USD , depending on the school. College tuition ranges from $1000 to $4000 per year. Needless to say, in an economy where the average salary is less than $200 USD per month, it is very difficult to save for schooling. Monies donated to this fund will be used for general scholarships that will be awarded by a community board on basis of SERVICE spelled as follows:
OR, you can become a SASSI (Support a Student Solomon Islander). This option promises the most fun and personal rewards, but it also requires a commitment of money over time. With this option, you may "adopt" a specfic student, either someone you've met and bonded with on a trip, or one that we will match with you, for a period of time. The scholarship commitment is up to you- it might be for 1 year of secondary school, or all 4 years. But once the commitment is made, it will need to be honored. With this option, we will do our best to put you in touch with your student either via E mail or letters. Barbara has adopted 2 students- she received such a beautiful letter of thanks from one of them, Thelma, and her parents that we were both in tears.
I have listed in the "Gifts" section and will repeat here -- LAPTOP COMPUTERS. If you have a used one or know of one, it would be an awesome contribution to the schools -- most of which have NONE!
Know that you contributions will be very well used and so greatly appreciated.