Beata Ayombe, Veronica Paison and Marie Turner, Daughters of Wisdom
The school and Sr. Beata
The school is lovely with six classrooms of three blocks. It is located on an open flat field surrounded by huge shady trees and flowers. We have five staff. Since we are missing one teacher, we’re giving specialised subjects for the grade 8 students whilst teaching in our own classes. The classrooms are made to accommodate the students’ population of about 50-60 students per class currently! There’re 44 students in grade 5 alone, still waiting for more to come. In grade 8, I teach language to 20 students.
All our materials are in place and well kept. The difficulty will be stocking up without transport. The head teacher, who is local, has good leadership and is very interested in the children. There are two female and three male staff. According to the children, it is the first time they have female teachers. Team work is very good even though the school has a history of lack of discipline; yet so far this has not been a problem. For the first time we will teach RI (Religious instruction) in the school and organize school masses each term.
My class has the habit of repeating any word that comes out of my mouth, like, “repeat please”, “go down the line”, “come on or try again”. This is quite frustrating but I handle it with compassion. Now we focus on reading and understanding instructions. Good news—their writing has improved!
Living quarters and commodities
It has been a great privilege to be here, an unforgettable experience. We are getting to know the people better and them us. We cleaned the house many times and now it looks so much better with the statue of Mary enthroned curtains up, and nails here and there to hang things. Our water system has improved thanks to the mathematical genius of Vero who organised a hose pipe into the tank at the overflow outlet. This pipe comes into the house and fills our buckets with cool drinking water – brilliant!
We are adjusting to life without a fridge; evening left-overs get eaten for breakfast as they won’t make it to noon usually. Fr. Gabriel managed to fix his fridge this week so at least when we go there, a cool drink is waiting. A family regularly brings us soft bananas and paw-paw (tropical fruit).
We’ve had so much rain recently that we were unable to go to the river for two weeks. The evenings, nights and early mornings are cool, in fact all of us are using a blanket at night. Fr. Gabriel fixed the lights so we have individual control over the switches.
One of our challenges is the temperamental kerosene stove that sucks kerosene as if it had not drunk for a week and then stops! It is eating our matches. Of course the damp weather is also to blame. Then the pots are full of soot!
Communication and transportation The school grounds look lived in with the grass that is cut. Our new house at the mission has the frame in place; the workers are making good progress. Now we are planning transportation to get Beata and Vero to and from work when we will move there. Sister Jeanne Adeline is exploring the possibility of mountain bikes. The only trouble is that when it rains there are several boggy parts to manoeuvre.
Five helicopters came this week for LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) and Digicel tower (Mobile phone). Vero was making a little shelter the other day for our ‘internet café’ for the weekends and was quickly helped by the teacher and a boy living next door. With a portable table and chair it is very useful and practical.
Official opening of the community
The highlight of last weekend was the official opening of our community with mass and meal. Fr. Gabriel agreed to come each Wednesday afternoon to say mass in our house. We go to the mission for 9 am mass on Sundays so leave home at 8.30 and return around midday. The walk is nice and easy when it is dry but after heavy rains it is something else slipping and sliding around. We discovered another very beautiful spot whilst visiting one of the corners last Sunday evening. At the confluence of three local rivers, the spot is magnificent. Ideal for a day of recollection!
One thing I really appreciate here is that we are able to leave the door open from 6.30 am to 6.30 pm and even later. People just drop around, usually bringing food or just for a chat to see how we are. Their kindness is overwhelming. We have hardly seen a mosquito or cockroach and the flies are manageable!
More challenges lie ahead as the Sisters gradually integrate this striving community, give it support and live out their mission as Daughters of Wisdom with the people of Nomad.
Video : Golden Jubilee