Location – Victory School of Hope
Located in Blacksands, an informal peri-urban community just outside the municipality of Port Vila in Vanuatu, Victory School of Hope serves a very needy community. Many people have been displaced by multiple natural disasters, many being from Tanna Island. The land is occupied under informal agreements with custom landowner families and residents are only allowed to build temporary housing. Some 30% of the community has negotiated more formal arrangements (payment of rent and compliance with national building standards) to enable them to build permanent structures. Facilities such as electricity, water, sanitation, and waste management are makeshift and provide many challenges. The community represents a variety of religious and political backgrounds.
2012 – A School is Born
In 2012, Victory Port Vila (an outreach church of Victory Church Bendigo) opened a school in Blacksands to address the need for education in the community. Currently, the school runs classes up to grade 5 but the facilities are very basic and the high temperatures and large rainfall in Vanuatu can present barriers to learning. The current structures are highly vulnerable to cyclones and storms and Vanuatu is known as one of the world’s riskiest nations for natural disasters (according to the World Risk Report 2015).
Locals Back the Project
The locals have given permission for use of the land and they are providing volunteer labour for the construction. Victory School of Hope Vanuatu is already registered as a private school under the authority of Apostolic Church Vanuatu Education Authority (a government body). We have consulted with the land titles office and the local chief and have been granted permission to develop permanent buildings for the school on the land.
We want to provide facilities for children in the Blacksands community to access education and climb out of the cycle of poverty. The school currently runs classes up to grade 5 and needs new classrooms to be able to offer up to grade 12. Our aim, therefore, is to build 14 new classrooms and 1 administration room at a rate of approximately 2 rooms per year until completion.
Making it Happen
Construction of the first classroom – a prototype of the others – began in November 2017 and must be completed before the beginning of the school term in 2018 so the current grade 5 students can continue into grade 6. Victory Church Vanuatu and the umbrella organization Apostolic Church Vanuatu will fundraise within their network of churches for the next classroom ($25,000 per classroom) to begin construction in approximately 6 months. Our goal is 2 new classrooms per year until project completion.
Currently, the school has 190 students (80-100 families) across 6-year levels (Kinders to year 5). Each new classroom/grade offered will provide the opportunity for growth by approximately 30 more students, which extends to their families and community. By the completion of the project it would help approximately 400 students directly and 150-200 families and their whole community as a flow-on effect. Educating one child can lift the whole future of their family line out of poverty, so the real benefit of this help will likely spread further than can be quantified.
The plans for the project were designed in consultation with the community to best fit their unique needs. They will be providing volunteer labour and sourcing materials. The local church is involved in fundraising through its networks and is being supported by Victory Church Bendigo with ongoing teacher training and curriculum. Hopefully, the whole construction project will be completed in 7-8 years.
All Hands to Work
The construction project will rely on donated services and funds and the local church networks will be involved in fundraising. Once the classrooms are built, the school will be self-supporting, as the students pay a small fee to cover teacher wages. Once construction of each new stage is complete, the local teachers will run the project, under the authority of The Apostolic Church Vanuatu Education Authority lead by Pastor Zebedee Tanga.
You can also join hands with this vital project by donating via the EziDebit button below.