Here are some of my school pictures with all the students on both islands of Penrhyn: Omuka (the big school at the bigger village) and Te Tautua (the small school at the small village). It was my idea to make first a spiral while holding the hands crossed (for more support when leaning back) and then a heart with the students. Great work from the Principal to get it done so perfect.
Rio, the Mayor, drove us to the hospital where Hina and I then set up two tables and used a bed without mattress to lay out all the glasses in the different strengths and already separated in women / men / small so that Marcus would have an easier job in finding good ones for the people. Of course the Mayor was the first one to get a pair. It was a fun day, we met 10% of the population of the town so we handed out about 20 pairs of reading glasses and the same amount of sunglasses. I was a bit surprised that not more people came.
While I checked the people's reading abilities in terms of sight and determined the strength they needed Marcus was handing out glasses and corrected the fitting so that they would sit perfectly fine. We had our hot air blow pistol with us and that way were able to adjust even plastic frames. Worked great and people were happy.
When it was quiet Hina and I drove on her Moped to do two house visits for older ladies. That was a lot of fun and rewarded me with a handmade beautiful swiper and a shell necklace. On the way back we stopped at the shop and I bought a 1,5l box of ice cream which Marcus, Hina and I made it half way through. We will finish the rest when we come back to that side before we leave.
A couple more people came and then at about 2pm we started packing up as no one showed up. Hinas husband had brought her sewing machine and I had brought fabric, a zipper and sewing thread and then I showed Hina how to make a handbag. I almost finished it all the way before we left at 3.30. Only 2 seams were left to sew, she'll finish it off. Sooo cool that this worked out because she had asked me to teach her when we first met. The bag I made has a smaller zipper protected pocket for the wallet and phone as well as a pocket for keys and other than that is big enough to put her bible in it. She is more than happy.
So, we have met many very nice people today and we have heard some happy laugh and almost cry from people who are finally able to see and read. Some had never had glasses, some had glasses but they were broken. Most said they wanted to be able to read the bible properly. One pair a time, it makes a difference.
Thank you to the headmasters of Eyeglass Assist, Paul and Frances, to have made this possible by giving us the glasses to distribute.
Check the website out for their next project, the Salomon Islands.
Thank you to all the people who have donated glasses and to the Lion's clubs around the world who collect thousands and thousands of glasses, clean and check them and send them to organizations like Eyeglass Assist, where at no extra cost the glasses are distributed directly to the people.
Tomorrow we'll distribute glasses on this side of the atoll also with some home visits.
Here are some pictures of today, of the hospital and at the end one of Hina and me with her Singer sewing machine and the almost finished handbag.
It's been almost 2 weeks now that we arrived in Penrhyn. I have been sick almost the whole time, I still have not recovered fully. That's why I have not posted. Nothing really has happened, I have hardly left the boat. Actually only to go to church and to see the nurse - and one evening at the house of the principal of the school.
Once you observe the life here a little bit and talk to some people you find out that this is the world in small. My dream of the happy paradise where all people are friends and help each other is ruined for ever. Even a small place like this - or maybe because it is a small place - has to live with family bonds, family fights, group building, hatred and love, stealing, alcohol, smoking, people closely observing what the others are doing to see if they find fault behaviours the can accuse a person of and even report to the police officer and so on. It makes my heart very sad. Also I learned that despite the people being nice they are very demanding. Demanding towards foreigners like sailors and external people like the principal, government officials, the Kiwi guy who runs the Internet & Mobile phone tower but also demanding towards each other. There are people who will be careful with what they have and try to use their food and daily needs wisely so that they have enough between cargo ship deliveries and others who use up without thinking and then run into other peoples houses trying to get stuff off them. This whole concept seems a bit weird to me. No wonder that most foreigners - in this case workers from outside - leave this place as soon as they can. Especially the women run away and return to their home (Rarotonga or New Zealand) pretty quick.
In church they sing together - 14 adults and 10 kids - in a beautiful church that is over 100 years old and could hold about 200 people - and the „pastor" talks about the love of god and loving each other but the people go out and don't talk to each other and swear and do the usual gossip about each other. Disillusioning.
I might be writing more about my experience here once we're on the way to Christmas Island.
The nicest thing Penrhyn has to offer are the nurses (one on each side), this incredible blue water full of sharks and the snorkelling in the cut.
Tomorrow Marcus and I are going to be taken to the main town on the other side so that we can test people's reading eyesight and hand out correct glasses if necessary and available in the required strength.