Kia Orana (click on this link to see how to say “hello” in Cook Islands Maori!)
As we count down to the 4th of August, our countries 50th birthday of being independence, the island is full of people – some being members of Team 149! Team 149 has made such a difference to our small community. We had two families on this team: one being a Mum, Dad, and two kids from Australia, and the other a Mom and daughter. In addition to the families, there are also two women and one man from the US. The team gelled within a day and the adventures began. Free time consisted of island dancing, whale watching, snorkeling, swimming, deep sea fishing and sun bathing. In work/service time, it has been all systems go with supporting preschools, elementary schools, high schools and ‘special’ schools.
One particular event: This team changed the life of one young fellow at the Creative Center. The Creative Center is a day respite care and school for people with intellectual and physical challenges. Sharolyn, a speech language therapist (of whom we have NONE of in our country), developed some non-verbal communication boards to use with some of the people at the Creative Center. One person at the center, for the first time ever, got to choose which activity HE wanted to take part in for the day. He chose something none of the workers had ever offered to him before – as they thought he wouldn’t have wanted to do that activity. Can you imagine what it must be like having someone else making all of your decisions for you as you can’t communicate your wishes to them? What a difference this communication board has made in this person’s life! Meitaki maata Sharolyn!
School holidays started this week. This meant two volunteers had the opportunity to work with the two literacy advisers from the Cook Islands Ministry of Education. The goal was develop a snazzy new library for Titikaveka College. This project is long overdue, and it was wonderful for Debbie and Todd to help get this project started. The next teams coming will continue with this project. They are now working with two NGOs in the community: Todd with Cook Islands Family Welfare helping with the financial side, and Debbie with Te Vaerua. Debbie is continuing on the work Sharolyn and Donna Smith (from Te Vaerua) started last week. They are working with families who have autistic children to develop strategies for dealing with their daily challenges.