Recreation and School-in-a-Box Kits a hit with children of Kuzi Village, Kolambangara
Kolambangara, Solomon Islands, May 2007 - Giggles and smiles of enthusiastic children are heard as they gather to see what is inside the big silver box. Inside the make-shift white tent, constructed with the help of villages from Kuzi village and relief and aid workers, 150 children gather each day to access the recreational and school in a box kits.
Seven year old, Ruth Garry grasps a little ball from the recreational kit and is smitten with her new toy. There are tears from Ruth’s eyes as she cradles her toy. Her mother explains that if it was hers to keep, she would sleep with it.
“She has not seen some of her friends since the tsunami of April 2, 2007,” explains UNICEF Child Protection Adviser, Natalie McCauley. “She is so excited about getting back to organized activities with her school and she will get to see her friends.”
“There are so many children here who love these kits. You can see the excitement in their faces when we open them up,” she said.
Kuzi village school has been totally washed away. There are no buildings to act as classrooms so children gather under the tent to access the resources in the school-in-a-box and recreation kits.
In partnership with the Provincial Education Department, UNICEF is trying to reach all affected areas and has already reached twenty schools affected, said McCauley, who will distribute accordingly to the affected areas. In over thirty other areas play and recreation places have been set up in partnership with Save the Children and World Vision
“There are a lot of dedicated, hard working teachers who are going out to assist UNICEF in providing the affected children with some form of education and structured play through the use of resources in the school-in-a-box and recreation kits,” she said.
McCauley adds that the teachers went out of their way to assist UNICEF and get children back to some form of educational routine. She said that the Ministry of Education is committed to ensuring teachers get paid which will enable an easier transition into formalised schooling
Dalcy Bosi from the Provincial Education Department has been instrumental in establishing the safe play and recreational spaces for children. “From what I see around me it’s obvious that so many children appreciate these school-in-a-box and recreational kits. Look at the smiles on their faces, it says it all,” she said.
Each school-in-a-box kit caters for 80 children and contains 27 teachers items and 11 students items. There are pens, pencils, chalks, exercise books, markers, flip charts, blackboard, paint brushes, posters of the alphabet, numbers and a world map, crayons, etc.
To date, UNICEF in partnership with the Provincial Educational Department has plans for the distribution of 60 school-in-a-box kits, over 100 recreational kits, as well as temporary shelters for these learning spaces.
“After a disaster like this children need to get back to everyday routines and begin to play and socialize with peers. This programme is starting the healing process for the whole community.”