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Wesley Mission Sydney Extends Rotuma High School Library

by Rejieli Flexman

In March 2014 I went to see for myself the work that was taking place at Rotuma High School Library extension. As in 2001 when the library was built, work on the extension was carried out by the men of the 7 districts of Rotuma on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. On the days that I visited the work site I was able to meet the workers and see the wonderful job that they were doing.  It was also an opportunity for me to thank them in person on behalf of the Wesley Mission family.  When the principal invited me to speak at the assembly, it allowed for me to tell the story of the library again to the school. The establishment of the library also began a partnership of mission and friendship between Rotuma High School and Wesley Mission Sydney and I hope that this partnership will remain and continue for many years to come.

The building of the extension is an expression of the continuing support and Wesley Mission’s commitment to the library project. The Wesley Rotuman Congregation was not aware that the money left over from the building of the library in 2001was put in a trust fund for future use for the library. This money made it possible to extend the library. The new extension will provide much needed extra space for reading and more shelves to store books. Principal Perry Gabriel, in addressing the school assembly, expressed his deep gratitude to Wesley Mission on behalf of the children of Rotuma for this enormous gift of a library and donations of thousands of books. He also said that RHS is the only school in the whole of Fiji that has a building just to house their library. He wished to thank the many people in Sydney who have contributed books and reference books like encyclopaedias. They could do with more reference books. At one year, a consignment of 20 boxes of new school clothes was received as part of the library donations. Some clothes were distributed to students and teachers but most of it was used for sports uniforms.

The children of Rotuma have benefitted so much from the kindness of people whom they don’t know and never met and probably never will. The support gave students many opportunities to read and learn to develop their skills, improve their studies and help them to do well in their exams. Rotuma is so isolated that the library provides a vital resource centre for students and teachers alike. They feel very privileged to have a library. Many big schools in Fiji don’t have such facilities. The students always look forward to using the library during library periods and during free times.  I brought back 26 individual letters and other letters written by a class with all the student’s names and teachers mentioned. All the letters expressed the same sentiment of gratitude and sincerity - Noa’ia ‘e hanisi Wesley Mission, faiaksia Wesley Mission. It is so heart- warming reading them, some in Rotuman but most in English. Some students even mentioned their parents' names and where they live, just to help me know who they are. How very thoughtful of them and I really appreciate and thank them dearly.
Thank you to the men of the seven districts of Rotuma for volunteering your time to build the extension. I felt quite humbled at the sight of seeing men working with their bare hands with no protective gear. All the work was done manually as is the case in most building works in Rotuma. Thank you to Rotuma High School and the school board for assisting Wesley Mission in completing the project. The building and completion of the extension concludes the lbrary project. We can all look back to 2001 and in the 13 yrs of existence that the library aims to serve the children of Rotuma well in supporting their education now and into the future.  Since its establishment, Wesley Mission family and friends have sent thousands of books to RHS in support of the library and we thank them sincerely.

Perhaps our global Rotuman community can do the same in helping our students in a very real way by sending good reading books to the library. Also, when you go to Rotuma, you might like to take some books and good magazines with you and donate to the library. It’s all in the name of education for Rotuma and building community.
I would also like to make special mention of the former Superintendent of Wesley Mission, Rev Dr Gordon Moyes AC and thank him for his vision and kindness to the Wesley Rotuman Congregation on their 25th Anniversary.  Thank you to Rev Dr Keith Garner the current Superintendent and members of the mission council for making the building of the extension possible. The gift of a library to Rotuma High School stands as a testimony to the Word and Deed Ministry of Wesley Mission, Sydney, which is a part of the Uniting Church in Australia. To God be all Honour, Glory and Praise.