An update from Jon Blake…
Having just returned from another trip to Vanuatu, I’d like to share some exciting news of progress and plans for 2017 at our Port Vila school, LifeChanger Christian College.
In a very humid early January, a small team of volunteer builders flew to Port Vila to assist in the completion of our Preschool, Nutrition Centre and classroom furniture, readying us for the beginning of the school year.
Early Learning Centre
The new Early Learning Centre houses our Preschool and Kindergarten classes. Two learning zones, attached bathrooms, a TV loaded with educational shows, new books and furniture and vibrant splashes of colour make this one of the best early learning facilities in Vanuatu.
In 2017 we have implemented the first stage of our curriculum restructure, which encourages our students to learn more actively from a younger age, and with a pathway more suited to Vanuatu’s unique challenges. Starting our students off in such an exciting and challenging learning space is a big step forward in improving the outcomes of our college. Staff, students and parents are very proud of the new classroom!
For the last several years we have been assessing different options to assist with basic nutrition deficiencies in the needy communities surrounding our college. Most students attend school hungry, with no access to a consistent nutritious diet at home. In 2015, we began a feeding program in the college, providing daily meals to students. For two years this program ran out of a converted storage area at the front of the college, however the new Early Learning Centre allowed us to renovate our old preschool into a purpose-built facility to house the feeding program.
The new Nutrition Centre allows for clean and hygienic preparation of meals, vermin-proof food storage rooms, hand washing stations, and facilities to clean and store the equipment required to feed our students through the week. Maggie, a mother from the college community, works as the full time cook and cleaner in the facility.
Clinic and Offices
Moving our nutrition centre freed up a building, which now houses our Head Offices and the new college medical clinic. Tropical sores are a big issue through the Pacific, and it is not uncommon for students to miss weeks of school through a year due to infections. We now have a wound management clinic for the college which allows daily dressing to catch scratches, cuts and sores before they become infected. Having a purpose-built ‘clean zone’ for this work is an excellent step forward.
This Clinic will double as a treatment/consultation room for visiting medical practitioners who host community health clinics from the college. We have also been able to relocate our Head Offices into the same building, which gives us a unified entry point for the College and other ministries.
This year we are focussed heavily on the development of long-term systems to improve the outcomes of the college. Our aim is to streamline the delivery of education across all school years, and provide better access to further training/employment options when their high school education is complete. We are working closely with other education providers to ensure our curriculum structure gives the best possible opportunities for access to vocational schools and tertiary training options. One major local training body will start bringing trainers through our college to discuss pathways with our students from year 7 onwards.
We will also be investing heavily into our local staff, with training sessions, increased responsibility and tighter monitoring of classroom delivery. We also plan to introduce new initiatives, with our new teacher, Matilda, being placed in charge of the school choir, band and ministry teams. We have also set up a new Audio Visual Room to allow new visual learning opportunities, with quality programming being sourced for all age levels. Later in the year, we will have a major solar power system installed, gifted by a Christian company, which will allow us to increase the usage of technology in the school without the financial burden of increased energy costs.
It is such a blessing to see what God has done. In just 8 years, we have seen a bush-covered, vacant block develop into a school of 400, with ministries reaching into countless communities and households every day. We are so thankful to the thousands of volunteers who have served the school, and to those who have given materials, tools, finances and supplies to allow us to reach the community. We thank God for our staff who serve along side us every day in the college and around our Vanuatu ministries.
2017 will be massive, with plans for some of the biggest events in the history of Vanuatu, major community building projects, houses and water supplies into communities and much more.