So I have been meaning to write this post for about a week. But it has taken me that long to stop feeling so emotional about it…

Sounds like I am dying! No nothing that drastic. Just that I finished my trip to the Solomon Islands. It was my last one. I have handed my projects over to a colleague and now I am no longer involved in it. Aaaahhh sounds not too bad but it was like tearing my heart out!!

I love the project and the people involved with the project. It is one of the most exciting and dynamic projects I have ever had the privilege to work on. My Solomon Island colleagues and I have consulted communities and built a structure of a project around what they envisage for the future.

Here are some of the awesome people I work with

The APHEDA SI crew (and me)

Margaret, Me and Merbilly

This photo epitomizes the work that we do. Here is one of our provincial based staff just sitting quietly in front of a board. On the board it says: Dream: Discuss: Design: Do

Jeromy quietly changing lives

What is happening is a process where a community is planning what they would like to do in the future. They are using a process called Strengths Based Approach, or Appreciative Inquiry. Where you work with the community to ‘audit’ the strengths they have (what they are good at etc) and then work with them to build on it for a long term plan. This creates a change map.

The community group we work with is a Community Learning Centre. This is important as Census data (from 1999) show that 64% of adult Solomon Islanders are illiterate, many having never received any formal schooling. Over 85% of the population live in rural villages with lifestyles based on a range of activities from subsistence gardening and fishing to a mixture of these activities and small scale cash cropping.

So to resolve this communities form Community Learning Centres where they can hold community appropriate trainings (lead by the community to suit community needs) in things like agriculture, livelihood activities, literacy or financial literacy and other trainings in social/life skills.

Inspiring Onyx, a Community Learning Centre Coordinator, showing her projects for women

It is so great because it is a program created by communities before my organization was there as a donor and it will continue on even if we are not there forever. We have been working with Community Learning Centres to get the recognition they need from the government and that is beginning.

This is the beginning of what is and will be a relevant and life changing institution in the Solomon Islands in the future.

No wonder I am busting out the tears here at by goodbye ceremony!

tears for Zoe (so glad I wore the watermelon top! I look like a giant watermelon)

 These people are truly changing lives in a positive way in a very lovely place. : )

what an awesome bunch of people

A friend who I met while in the Solomons used to play in a band. I only saw them play once but it was great. It is such a beautiful song and now will always remind me of the Solomons: