Transforming children’s lives through a social club in South Malaita, Solomon Islands, has spread a sense of optimism and given a new meaning to Mr Grayham Bercy Tahu’s life.
An Australia Pacific Training Coalition (APTC) graduate from the Solomon Islands, Grayham initiated the Children’s Writing and Reading Social Club in 2018 to engage children with learning difficulties.
The 40-year-old is a passionate community worker from Afio community in South Malaita, a remote community about 117 kilometres from the country’s capital of Honiara. He joined APTC in 2015 to study Certificate III in Community Services (CHC32015) and graduated in 2016.
Grayham realised the need to support the learning development of children in Afio as a longstanding issue due to the lack of professionals in social work in the area.
In response, Grayham devotes his time to assisting the children in his community, who have shown significant improvements physically, psychologically and academically.
He says the program also improves social unity among peer groupings, and benefits the Afio community as a whole.
“I started a social club with children to improve their reading and writing. They are mostly primary school students who come to learn in the weekends.
“As part of this program, students also play football as a platform to promote gender equality, professional development, safety talks and the importance of a healthy balanced diet,” Grayham says.
The social club has enabled children to understand and acknowledge their importance as members of society and their reliance on each other despite differences in their family backgrounds.
“Having spent more than 15 years on working and learning, it is reassuring and rewarding to help rehabilitate children so that they realise their full potential,” he adds.
The APTC graduate says the community service program has increased his motivation and built his self-confidence to work effectively within his remote community.
“APTC training has not only complemented my existing knowledge and skills but also inspired me to work with disadvantaged children and youth who continue to struggle with the lack of opportunities.”
Meanwhile, the Children’s Writing and Reading Social Club is expanding its network with organisations such as the Solomon Islands Football Federation (SIFF), the Just Play program, and the Leaders Education Authority Project (LEAP) of the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development.
According to Grayham, this is a clear demonstration of effective networking skills learned from APTC and previous formal education almost 20 years ago.
“I had joined the Vanga Rural Training Centre (RTC) in Kolombangara, Western Province, where I graduated with a certificate in Traditional Carpentry and Building in 2002.
“The challenges faced by the Afio community in remote South Malaita are gaps in knowledge and skills, lack of personnel in the areas of community services and resources like good reading materials,” Grayham adds.
He emphasises that APTC has contributed largely to his holistic personal development and increased confidence in the area of counselling.
“It is a new area for me and I am appreciative of the opportunities given to me to bring about positive changes in others’ lives. Whatever I have learnt through the courses, I share the skills and knowledge with my family and other needy children.
“It also changed my perception about life as a whole and I now have a deeper sense of humility towards those who are less fortunate,” Grayham says.