What I saw at Fote Village moved me (Article from News.com.au)

On November 10, 2008 by admin

MICHELLE Roldan is a 25-year-old graphic designer from Sydney who first went to the Solomon Islands for a creative holiday break Here she tells what it was like on her first visit to Fote Village Primary School with Little and LOUD co-founder Mirjam Verkleij:

We had no real idea about where the village was, how remote, small or big it was, and we weren’t really expecting a big school or any big experience. If anything, when our truck broke a tyre 10 minutes into the pot-hole filled journey, I was expecting to a very modest affair.

Michelle with the Locals

Tasty ... Michelle Roldan gets friendly with the locals

To our surprise though, the second our truck was in view, we were welcomed into the village by a boy blowing a shell horn. The alert sent the rest of the village into a shuffle and children and parents began running towards the school grounds, screaming with excitement, to take their places. Once we got out of the truck, “warriors” jumped out of the bush and danced around us while the headmaster and the chairman escorted us to the school field where the bamboo pipe band played us a few songs.

It’s probably one of the most incredible things I’ve ever experienced – to be welcomed, as a total stranger, in such a manner. We were sat on two chairs in front of the assembly room, donning flower necklaces that two little girls presented to us, while we listened to them sing us a few songs, including the national anthem.

It was overwhelming to see the classroom bursting at the seams with all the students, teachers and their parents. To learn that they had prepared all this in just one day (along with a huge plate of sandwiches that would have cost them a lot!) completely pulled at our heart strings because who were we to be receiving this kind of treatment? They knew we weren’t part of an organization and that we were just travellers, yet the entire village worked together to make us feel completely welcomed.

This brief encounter with the children became the spark for our vision. I realised how little I knew about this country that is right next door to Australia. I wondered how many other countries were also full of bright eager children who weren’t being seen or heard.

After sharing some of the paints and coloured pencils I had with me I was told that this was the first time they had used them and that no one outside the village had given the school attention in perhaps 20 years. I knew something needed to be done about it. Now.

What started off as an impulsive escape from winter has turned into a journey that has continued long after I returned home. We’re not development experts, or global leaders, or celebrities hoping to heal the world. But we created Little and LOUD with the hope of contributing in the same way by starting an engine that will encourage creative global communication, social and cultural awareness and ultimately, to create lasting change.

(From; http://www.news.com.au/features/what-i-saw-at-fote-village-moved-me/story-e6frflgi-1111117992942)

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