Santa Isabel, Solomon Islands

One area of our Project: Community Resources

Due to lockdowns in Australia, reduced travel and shipping restrictions our pile of resources continues to grow with the hope we can soon pack it into strong boxes and send it on its way. Donations include medical supplies, high school and primary textbooks and library books, washable sanitary kits and sporting uniforms and equipment.

Where?

They are going to Santa Isabel, a province in the Solomon Islands.  The journey starts in Orange NSW which is the collection point for schools, businesses, community groups and individuals across NSW and the ACT. The journey is rough requiring the sturdiest boxes we can find, using excessive amounts of packing tape with the hope they will hold together until they reach their destination.

Muscles needed!

Once packed (a time-consuming heavy task), labelled and contents recorded, they are loaded onto a rented 4tonne truck and volunteers deliver them to Sydney to be unladed onto pallets for shipping. From Sydney they make their way to Honiara where they pass through customs. More muscles required from our friends in Honiara to unload and load them onto a boat heading to Isabel. On arrival at Buala Station, once again more muscles are needed to transport them to the Diocesan Centre. From here, they are allocated to the groups (coloured tape identify who the boxes are for) and head to schools and preschools along the coast and up into the mountains. A Ute makes its way down the road to the provincial hospital. Volunteers with muscles walk boxes in both directions to women’s support groups, dropping off the sanitary kits to the Mothers Union who provide education session for women across the Island. Finally, a boat arrives to take the remaining boxes across the lagoon by boat to the Bible College and preschool.  

Impact

The donations have provided classrooms with books, schools with books to start or replenish libraries and teachers with resources. Newborns in the hospital have knitted hats and booties to help keep them warm, along with other donated supplies.  Washable sanitary kits head throughout the providence as part of the education program seeing girls’ attendance and grades rise as they no longer need to stay home when they have their period. Preschools have books and other resources, and women’s support groups have supplies to assist the vulnerable in their community.

For many in Australia, these are small things. For our friends in the Solomon Islands

  • an Australian school updating classroom readers sees a class with their first classroom set of books
  • a library downsizing here sees a school able to provide students with a library
  • groups and individuals sewing washable sanitary kit components and collecting underwear and hygiene items, sees women able to work and girls go to school
  • knitted hats see a baby survive the night
  • The soccer or netball kit that cannot be used in Australia as the sponsor changed sees a team united

The common response is infectious smiles and excitement along with gratitude that others care.

Challenges

While we get many donations of resources, the challenge is getting them there. Sourcing boxes, storage while we collect and pack, the cost of the various legs of the journey and customs duty can be prohibitive due to the cost involved.

Hope

We look forward to once again sending a pile of boxes, filled with new opportunities and being able to go back to our second home, a place where the smiles are welcoming, the generosity is at times overwhelming, and we have the privilege of walking with others and sharing our journeys together.