Rob and Bev Hale: Rob and Bev Hale’s CommUNITY News no. 1

Nicholas, Rob and Clare
Finally had time to put pen to paper so to speak. We have had an interesting time in our first few weeks here. Internet access has been a challenge. We are using the connection at the convent so it is usually a few days between checks, so don’t be too concerned if it takes a while to get a reply.

So far we have been shown around some of the island’s beaches and into Apia (the Capital) by the Sisters of Mercy. They have been very hospitable, sharing meals with us and letting us know about the local customs. The snorkelling at a couple of the beaches was great. One beach had little blue fish I’m sure I’ve seen in Australian pet shop/aquariums. They were a brilliant blue and really stood out against the coral. Only about 3 cm long, but really pretty. The beach is called return to paradise, it was where the TV series of the same name was filmed.

We have a huge Basilica in the grounds of the compound that we live in. Mass on Sundays is a wonderful experience. The Samoans seem to be able to sing in harmony from the day they are born. Gives me goose bumps when they get going. On the first Sunday of the month all the villages in the parish gather at the basilica for a big mass. It was in Samoan but it was still nice.

The family arrives in Samoa
We’ve started teaching, all going OK. It is very different to the schools that we are used to. Rob is Form Teacher for Year 12 and I “help” with Year 10. Learning names has been our biggest challenge and the Samoan names are really different to ours so it is much harder to create an association to help us to remember. Getting the hang of it slowly. We had a welcome assembly on Friday 5 Feb 2010; that I missed unfortunately as Clare was home sick. Paul VI College (where Rob and I teach) gave us a lava lava (sarong) and Rob did a dance with the students, as is the custom here to welcome new teachers. I’m sorry I missed it!!

Learning names has been our biggest challenge and the Samoan names are really different to ours so it is much harder to create an association to help us to remember. Getting the hang of it slowly.

Nick and Clare have been going to the local primary school, St Joan of Arc; so far they are enjoying it. Each has made some friends that come around in the late afternoon to play.

We have all been a bit sick, except for Nick (touch wood). Nothing serious, just some tummy troubles. Change of food I suspect. Water here is all bottled or boiled as expected; we even brush our teeth with bottled water.

Our house is basic but comfortable. Kids have a room each at the moment. We are expecting another volunteer soon, so they may have to move in together for a month or two until one of the current volunteers leave in March. We had a baked chicken for lunch today; rather nice. So we know the oven works now. Although it’s a bit hot to do that too often.

The Hales' new house
Weather wise, nothing unexpected, hot and wet. Typical tropical weather, shower cools things down then the sun comes out and things get hot and humid again. Some days even your bed feels damp when you get in!! Our pedestal fans are working overtime especially at night to make sleeping a bit easier. We had one cyclone that we all slept through and another warning that closed the whole island down. Every store closed, schools sent kids home and closed, lots of preparation done but no cyclone came. Fortunately it missed us.

We were awaken one morning at 3am with a Tsunami warning. It was a result of the earthquake in Chile which I’m sure you have all heard about. We had to grab our most precious things, jump in the ute and head up the hill. We were up there until about 11 am, then we got the all clear to come back. Just another day in Samoa, you never know what’s going to happen!

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The poor themselves can create a poverty-free world —
all we have to do is to free them from the chains that we have put around them. - Muhammad Yunus