In terms of the work I have been doing at the school, it is great to see teachers starting to take on responsibilities of the library. It has been my main concern that once I leave this place the library will “break down.” It turns out that a year (which is about as long as the library has been functioning, having taken a good six months to be assembled) is not nearly enough time to fully develop, from scratch, the concepts of book exchange, book care, and regular use of the library among students, teachers and community members. The students continue their enthusiasm for exchanging books, regularly coming to my door at 7:00 in the morning wanting to go to the library. And thankfully there is one super-enthusiastic teacher who has agreed to be the “open-hours librarian.” And all teachers are now coming once a week with their classes, and facilitating regular book exchange. And thankfully, there should also be a replacement Peace Corps Volunteer coming to take my place here at the school in December, which gives the school here a good month to try and manage the library on their own, without leaving it alone entirely. It also gives the community at least another 2 years to have reading and the library play a more significant role. Aside from the library, I have had an amazing time teaching reading, phonics, and English this year. A lot of kids who knew less than half of their ABCs in February are now actually reading, albeit pretty easy books. I love learning how to teach. And I love teaching these kids.
For every thing that is hard to see and hear about here on Tanna, especially in terms of violence against women, there are so many more things that are truly wonderful. There is so much I will always love about this community. And for the next two and a half weeks, I will continue to enjoy every day. I will continue to make my rounds and visit different kitchens, the very best place to “storyon” and enjoy island food. I will even savor every piece of laplap!
I will enjoy every moment with little baby Sam, whose family has finally been reunited after so much trouble.
And I will definitely enjoy all the wonderful things the kids do. Every coconut tree that gets climbed.
And of course the way that the pikininis are in some ways more comfortable with a knife than with their own clothes onJ
So I wrote that last blog post two days ago, and thought there was a good chance it would be my last. But THEN yesterday morning I learned that my host brother’s wife, my “tawi” Selina, had gone to the hospital to have her baby. I have been hoping I would get to see the little baby before I left and so I was thrilled yesterday to venture up to see what action was happening at Lenakel Hospital. When I got there Selina was still having contractions. And so for the first time in my life, I watched this amazing birthing process. Selina's mother and her mother-in-law (my mama) were beside her the whole time, massaging her lower back with every contraction. I could tell Selina was in an incredible amount of pain, but the only sounds that ever escaped her mouth throughout the whole 14 hours were small little moans. I have heard it said that Ni-Vanuatu women have babies in almost near silence, but I was still pretty blown away to witness it. I know if it had been me I would have been screaming my lungs out. I could see the pain on her face. The midwife was a great guy who came barging into the birthing room when Selina had just started to push. I was startled by what seemed a gruff demeanor, but could see the relief on the mamas’ faces when he showed up. They call this guy “frend blong all mama,” and of the 4 midwives on Tanna, he is the one all the mamas want present to “born” their babies. And less than 20 minutes after he showed up, sure enough the little baby boy was born. I was completely in awe. I still am. And afterwards, when he and his mama Selina were taken back to the maternity ward, and my mama and I bathed him (because apparently there is a whole lot of blood and other fluids involved in child birthJ) the family all turned to me and said that the next day everyone would be asking what his name was… and while I had joked with them in past months about naming him “Fernando” if he was a boy, after the Spanish soccer player Fernando Torres (who last year everyone here thought was my boyfriend), once I saw the little guy I wanted him to be my namesake. So I named him Lauren, which I thought was less girly than my own name. One of my PCV friends here assured me that was fine, since she even knew a little girl in her community with the name David. Little Lauren weighed in at 3.1 kilos and is just a beautiful little Man Tanna. And I am so grateful for this week, which started with this awesome mango and ended with the incredible birth of my nephew Lauren.
Celebrate this Day!