One of the latest additions to the Christadelphian school in Vanuatu, a building constructed partly of “earthbags”, has been finished and is in use. One half of the new building houses the teachers’ excellent collections of resources. The other half is a classroom.
The Kapalpal Christadelphian School is located on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu (in the South Pacific Ocean). The school opened its doors in 2009 and was begun in support of a brother who was volunteer teaching at a local “school”. The government facility that was supposed to exist was non functional at the time. A photo below of two of the school’s 3 “classrooms” – since blown away in a cyclone which hit the area in 2011 – gives an indication of the extent of the need. Brother Michael Job was filling a gap, a big gap. He felt it was important that the children in this remote area have the opportunity to be educated. As he said at the time. “They cannot read their Bibles if they don’t know how to read.”
Kapalpal’s first building, below, was finished late in 2008 and was designed to cater for 70 children.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough. Over two hundred children have been registered with the school ever since it opened.
A second building, below, was added early in 2010.
The school follows the curriculum provided by the Vanuatu education department. As Kapalpal is considered to be what the government terms a ‘mission’ school, we have the freedom to teach true gospel from the Bible. In the primary school, Sunday School lessons are taught and a Bible camp held each year.
This year a junior secondary school has been established with Class 7. The extra classes for high school has meant that space has again become a major issue. Thanks to our volunteer workers and the funding supplied by the WCF, in June we were able to put up the new building, constructed of earth-bags and timber. The students in the high school range in age from 12-20 (such an age range is not unusual in Vanuatu, where non-compulsory education can be interrupted for many reasons). It was a real joy to engage these students in Bible teaching. In the hour that we scheduled for Bible studies each morning ,we covered the topic, “Why do we read the Bible?” Over 10 weeks we considered some reasons:
* To learn more about God (covered the story of Creation)
* Because it has fantastic and interesting stories (studied Gideon)
* To learn more about Jesus (feeding the five thousand and walking on the water)
* To get guidance and direction for our lives (various psalms, proverbs, etc)
* To understand how Jesus saves us ( in simple terms)
The students are attentive and appear to thoroughly enjoy the classes. Each of the students has their own Bible ( provided by the Jemima Fund)
When we left the class was beginning a study on the life of Paul. We hope to continue Bible Studies with the students until they graduate from Kapalapal in year 10.
The new building is made in good part of earth bags – synthetic bags filled with dirt. The upper half of the building is made of timber and is covered by a colourbond, iron roof. Because the cost of getting materials to the island is high we decided to trial use of local materials — bags of dirt and local timber. We have done this in hopes of reducing building costs but also because it may be a design that the local community can afford and replicate. If so, they will be better protected from the cold, wind and rain than is afforded by their thatch and bamboo huts. And, if built well, the earth bag homes should last much longer than those made of traditional materials.
The project begins, above, with a base of earthbags set in the ground.
The building, with lower half of earth bags and upper of timber.
Though the earth berm for the front of the completed building wasn’t done when the above photo was taken, the bags on all four sides were back-filled to protect the them from sunlight. Hopefully, the berms will be clothed in grass by this time next year.
We pray that our Father will continue to bless the work being done here in His service and that there will be a fruitful harvest from the classes taught .