Minimum Fundraising Commitment: $2,500
The Tongan village of 'Utungake suffers an extremely high rate of unemployment, especially amongst women, because there is no convenient option for early childcare. As a Hope Corps volunteer, you will help build a functioning preschool in the community that will provide access to education for young children and will employ local women as teachers and caretakers.
Location: Village of 'Utungake on the island of Vava'u, Kingdom of Tonga
Project: 'Utungake Preschool and Playschool
Community Partner: 'Utungake Preschool Committee (UPC)
Hope Corps is teaming up with the 'Utungake Preschool Committee, a local group of community members who are determined to have a preschool built in the village. It is made up of parents, teachers, and a Peace Corps Volunteer who all see the need for an educational facility for pre-Government Primary School (G.P.S) aged children. The group has a President, Treasurer, Secretary, and Communications Officer. All of the members of the committee have had experience working on community-based projects in the past with varying levels of success. Most recently, the village has carried out a very successful waste management project. The lead roles for the project will be played by the President/Town Officer and a Peace Corps Volunteer.
The village of 'Utungake is about 10 miles from Neiafu where the island’s pre-school is located. Parents are forced to send their children to town or other villages for school. This is a burden on those families without a vehicle and also those with one due to the cost of daily transport. Families are very eager to start their children’s education early to make them all the more prepared for the coursework in the G.P.S system once they are of age. Another contributing factor to the need for the school is the high level of unemployment in the village. A functioning pre-school in 'Utungake would employ local women and provide parents with a convenient option for childcare.
Currently there are about 4-5 women who run a pseudo-preschool program out of the library on the G.P.S campus. A stand-alone preschool that children could attend everyday would give these women an occupation that the community would pay for. The community has no problem paying school fees for a program that is run within 'Utungake because it will generate and move money around our village as opposed to another.
A pre-school in the village would give local children a chance for education every day. This will undoubtedly make them all the more prepared to enter the Government Primary School System once they become of age. This level of preparation will hopefully give them a strong foundation to build off of throughout their education. Parents would not have to pay the costly school fees to the preschool in Neiafu and could in turn invest the money they save on other projects in the village. The employment of local women to run the school will generate income within the community that can be used to sustain their families. This will make the village as a whole less reliant on remittances from overseas family members. There are roughly 25 children who are of pre-school age within the community who would directly benefit from the construction of a new school.
About Tonga: Tonga is a Polynesian kingdom made up of 3 island groups comprised of 177 islands in total, mostly uninhabited. The islands are covered in tropical rain forests, lined in white sand beaches, and surrounded by coral reefs and crystal clear waters. The culture is extremely laid-back and peaceful. Coconuts grow everywhere!