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Luke Wathen

Luke – Report from the Field

Continuing the Progress!

Hello everyone!

This is a report that has been an absolute joy to write because it is about the wonderful village of Rapa. This community has become very special to me, after all the time I spent, with many others, helping to build homes and the church there. But I’m writing now about how the work in Rapa is taking a new direction, not physical infrastructure development but an educational development!

At the moment only one person in the community, Mr Struts can read and write. So, to help the community move forward and have the chance of a future with greater options and prospects, Smiles has employed Alina, a Community Worker and Teacher for Rapa.

Alina works with the adults and children to help them to learn literacy, mathematics and in time, we hope many other academic subjects. It is clear from the outset that she is passionate about education and sees the need and potential in Rapa. The relationship between her and the people in Rapa is already one of co-operation and respect.
Rapa - teaching from Alina
But her work will also involve a wider range of teaching, things to us that may seem basic, like cleaning their teeth!

But in Rapa this was something they have not done before they were never taught and because it was not important enough for their parents to take the time. Survival in life from the poverty they have known is all consuming and small but important issues are often forgotten in the process of ‘surviving’.

What I mean is that when they used to live in houses like this, in minus 20 degrees, and had to walk a six mile round trip to collect water, brushing their teeth would not be high on the list of priorities to survive.

So, having started in October, in her first week working with them, Alina and I took tooth brushes and toothpaste to Rapa and taught them to use them effectively for the first time. As you can see they enjoyed it, even the ones who found the taste of the toothpaste a bit of a sharp shock!
Rapa - toothbrushes and countryside
This, alongside the lessons they have begun have been brilliant to help with! Both the kids and adults are very keen to learn and work hard.

Darius and Cami in particular put a lot of effort into their writing and maths homework, with very few mistakes! The kids are also working hard and adding to the work they do at the Rapa village school by listening to Alina and doing their homework from there inside the church Smiles built in the community.

Of course, we don’t want them to only work hard but to also enjoy themselves, so a couple of weeks ago we took them out on a walk with a group of mission trippers and enjoyed a picnic. This is clearly something that was another first for them and they absolutely loved it, playing and just being kids for a while, not having to think about helping at home with siblings or chores.

This is the first of many events and activities that we will do with the Community alongside the work in the classroom. We believe this is a great opportunity to continue the amazing progress that is happening in Rapa, but we also need your help to make this happen!

Smiles has employed Alina to her role, a new one in Smiles exclusively for Rapa. We need to continue to fund her role and the work she does into the future. Her salary and vehicle costs every day needs to be covered and funds for her education resources are required. Our budget for the first year is anticipated to be £9,800 ($12,740). If you could consider supporting this new area of Smiles work then that would be wonderful because it will enable Alina to build on the fantastic start she and the community have made together on this project!

Whether it is with a one off donation or if you could commit to a monthly gift via the bank you would be enabling the Community of Rapa to learn and progress towards a future with more possibilities than they can imagine and more options to support themselves and their families!

Thank you and May God bless you,

Luke Wathen

Smiles UK Development Associate

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