John Toreng Thang Kom Levion and Valentina Reinemyang Leivon are volunteers from Imphal, northeast India. They are first cousins. They came to the Solomon Islands as volunteers practically at the start of this extraordinary missionary month. They opted to come for 6 months to train the teachers of the learning centre for the children of Ranadi Landfill near Henderson.
John initially planned to do volunteer work with his wife. However, the centre in Imphal needed a trainer for the new staff, so his wife stayed with their two children. In her stead John invited his first cousin come with him to the Solomon Islands.
The greatest challenge that they both experience is to help these children get used to sitting down to learn, rather than just play. Communicating with these kids who, practically, do not speak English or Pidjin is another challenge. But their consolation is that these kids are “very friendly as well as open and very close to all their teachers.”
John’s greatest sense of fulfilment is in “helping these children learn to read and write, children who would, otherwise, have no possibility to have an education at all”. Valentina, who is in the middle of his MA studies, sees the sacrifice of stopping for a semester her studies and come to the Solomons as very formative. “I have been learning all my life,” she explained, “coming here I have the opportunity to teach and give instead of being always at the receiving end.”