In April 2015, SEAM took a group of 14 people — donors, volunteers — to Cape Nelson. The Tufi Resort gave us reduced rates in support of SEAM. We also stayed in village guest houses at full cost.
Stephen took a 1:5 scale model of School-in-a-Box to show to the school committee, teachers, students and community. It was received with great interest on the part of the school and its committee, and with enthusiasm by the students and community. Stephen conducted several community meetings to discuss its use and implementation.
Topics discussed included:
- design elements: working space, storage, display boards, maneuverability, etc
- how to ensure girls and women participate, including on the liaison committee, in the classroom, and in all community activities. The lack of sanitary products was considered the primary reason why teenage girls ceased to attend school. SEAM is investigating sustainable, reusable options.
- how to use School-in-a-Box to the benefit of all five villages that use the school. The liaison committee was extended to ensure representation from all villages. The suggestion was made that some resources, especially for early childhood and adult literacy could be borrowed from the School-in-a-Box hub adjacent to Tainabuna school, so that it can function also as a library.
Under the leadership of Australian artist and print maker Helen Mueller, we had another day at the school making books. For this year’s Making Books, Helen devised a low-tech system that did not require the computer equipment that we used in our first making books project at the school (link Alison Lester). Using A5 paper and a Japanese stitching method that could be done by all but the youngest children, individual books were made with stories written and illustrated by the students. The younger children drew pictures of their houses, pathways, trees, animals, gardens, canoes, reefs etc. The older students wrote stories over several pages along with illustrations, maps and diagrams. A team of the SEAM volunteers and donors worked to punch the holes and thread the stitching.
In the two classrooms used by Grades 4-8, there was creative engagement and studious attention; the stories they wrote were funny, moving, informative, beautiful. In the elementary classroom – dirt floor, few desks – there was an excited, creativeatmosphere that didn’t quite tip into chaos as the children jumped and drew and held their books above their heads.
Helen Mueller worked with the senior students and with the teachers, who set about making blank books for use in future classes. In the elementary classroom, the three youngest of the SEAM team worked to ensure that by the end of the day every child had a book of his or her own.
115 books were produced.