Avu Avu locals helped carry the shipment of books up to the school.
Avu Avu locals helped carry the shipment of books up to the school.
14 February 2013

A shipment of nearly 2000 books (84 boxes) has arrived at an isolated high school in the Solomon Islands after a four-month journey from The University of Queensland.

They arrived in time to mark today’s International Book Giving Day, February 14.

Avu Avu Secondary School on the Weather Coast of the Guadalcanal Island began an appeal for books early last year, after building their first library with the help of school fees and donations. One problem remained: There were no books in the library.

In March last year, UQ Professor Clive Moore – a co-convener of the UQ Solomon Islands Partnership - learned of their appeal, knowing well that the area was isolated and had no main roads.

“My heart went out to them,” Professor Moore said.

“Since the 1970s I have completed research work on a neighbouring island, and I am well aware of the isolation and difficulties that people face in these remote areas.

“I forwarded the appeal to my colleagues and also to friends and family, and waited.

“Books began to trickle in over the next few months. Often colleagues brought in a box or so of books and left them in the school office, or I found mysterious boxes outside my door when I came to work in the mornings."

Eventually the collected books filled a storeroom in the school.

Rotary International helped store the books at Durak in Brisbane and included them in a container of medical and other supplies sent to Honiara, the Solomons capital. The Weather Coast Member of Parliament used his constituency funds to collect the books at the wharf and ship them to Avu Avu.

After a teachers' strike in the area delayed the delivery, the books finally arrived at Avu Avu in early February. They were unloaded onto the beach and carried up to the school by students.

The Weather Coast has a population of about 18,000 people. Avu Avu Scondary School is the only senior boarding school in the area and students live on campus for nine months a year. It enrols 400 students from grades 7 to 12.

Professor Moore is Professor of History and Head of School of the School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics (HPRC) at UQ. He is a co-convener of the UQ Solomon Islands Partnership, a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities and former President of the Australian Association for Pacific Studies.

He thanked everyone who contributed toward the appeal, particularly the staff at the School of HPRC and Rotary International.

“It was a worthwhile effort and will certainly improve the chances for children,” he said.

The students’ own fundraising included walks to Honiara, which is no small feat, considering that the central mountains of Guadalcanal rise up to 2,449 metres - higher than Mt Kosciuszko.

Avu Avu Secondary School is still requesting book donations. Those who wish to help can contact the principal Mr Maesac Suia (mrsuia@yahoo.com.au)

UQ maintains a Memorandum of Understanding, which strengthens the university’s relationship with the government and people of Solomon Islands.

MEDIA: Professor Clive Moore, c.moore@uq.edu.au; 0419 676 123