Laura residents came together late last month last week to bless the opening of the very first public library built by the non-profit organization Growmate Education with donations from 237 families and friends in Japan.
Growmate Chief Junko Shindo, a former JICA volunteer who currently teaches at Laura High School, also assisted in opening Woja Elementary’s library earlier with help from other former volunteers as well as donations from Japan and LHS.
Laura’s public library is situated in Lomar village on Likinlalinmak weto. Lead carpenter Mitsuo Tanaka, an art and English teacher in Japan, spent the first half of his six-month vacation last May learning local architecture and construction techniques from the villagers. It was his first time using cement for a foundation since Japanese houses are built differently, he said.
The library is the very definition of community. Ace Hardware’s Yuichi Yamaguchi assisted in connecting a water pipeline while the Uliutavukis, the weto landowners, connected the library’s electricity. A whole wall is filled with books donated by supporters who also surprised Shindo with tons of Japanese leather backpacks called randoseru, traditionally given to a child at the beginning of their first year of school.
Since it’s a small library their plan is to have people reserve the reading room during their opening hours. “That time will be for them to read, draw, or study,” says Shindo, “but we want to show them that reading is fun.” She happily reported that Woja Elementary’s library, which also started small, now has seven bookshelves.
“We hope teachers don’t push reading,” Tanaka added. “We want to make the students readers who can lead others to reading, and from here we hope many good readers will grow up while learning many things through books.”
Read more about this in the March 15, 2018 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.