Since finishing our fundraising campaign with ‘Books for the World’, some amazing things have been happening at Sekolah Gunung Merapi, and the effects have been immediate. Since starting our new term on the 1st of August we’ve been blown away by the amount of demand with 32 students joining our kids classes, 20 new students enrolled on our evening adult course and seven more mature students on the waiting list for the next adult course starting in December.
Whereas before the school area and playground always felt quiet and abandoned, now every afternoon once the school opens, the playground is full of kids playing football and the library is a constant hub of activity. Most of the kids playing there are our students who come early to play and hang out before their lesson, but we were also surprised to see our students coming on the days they don’t have class and those not enrolled in any of our classes also feeling comfortable enough to come and use the school facilties.
The independent study space in the library is also becoming a popular spot for older kids to do their homework and the last week we’ve also had a small group of kindergarden aged students coming for informal early reading lessons, which we’re hoping will become more popular in future.
News of the school renovations also seems to have inspired new energy to restart rehearsals and lessons of the local ‘Jatilan’ dance and music group, with the juniors now having a regular practise on Friday afternoons and the adults on Saturday evenings.
Here’s an overview of some of the changes we’ve made since June:
REPAIRS: First of all, we were able to fix the leaky roof and broken floor of the classroom, the library and the adjacent community music room. Next we were able to renovate the toilet block, completely replacing the roof and collapsed ceiling. We were also able to add concrete feet to the communal kids playground, making the swings and slide so much safer to play on, and since then the teachers from the neigboring ‘Kenanga’ kindergarden have also been inspired to install a new sandpit for all to enjoy.
THE LIBRARY: With the rooms now safe, clean and water tight, we were able to relocate the local village library collection of about 600 books from its cramped and mouldy location to its new home at Sekolah Gunung. Helped by whole team of amazing volunteers we were able to buy 80m of protective plastic and hundreds of sticky labels to wrap and categorised each book. All to help protect and organise each book for the day when we will eventually be ready to start lending out books to community.
FURNITURE: Once the books were ready, we were able to order 6 custom made bookshelves to display the collection in an easy to use and logical fashion, dividing the books into an adult and kids area. We also able ordered 7 great tables for the classroom, a new whiteboard and some chairs so our staff finally have somewhere to sitdown!
NEW PAINT AND MURALS: Having great books and facilities are important, but so is creating pleasing aesthetics to make a learning space enticing and exciting! Thanks to your donations we’ve been able repaint to all the rooms and bathrooms with a fresh, new colour, and incorporate some simple forest themed murals.
All this and yet so far we’ve spent just A$800 or less than half of the money raised. Thanks to your help, support and generosity, there’s still so much we can do.
READING SPACES: In the next few weeks we plan to finish the library by adding lots of cushions, comfortable reading spaces and ‘nooks’ and a ‘book cave’.
OUTDOOR PLAY AREA: Now the school interiors are looking so great, we’ll be starting to renovate the outdoor playground with some new plants, trees, some fresh paint, playground floor games and murals and some outdoor seating areas.
IT FACILITIES: Thanks to a recent donation of a computer, we will also be installing a communal IT area with scanning and printing facilities and with it the new potential of offering informal IT lessons.
HANDICRAFTS WORKSHOP: We’ll also be creating an informal arts workshop within one corner of the classroom, with future plans to open handicraft lessons that could give new income generating skills for the local community.
OPENING PARTY: over the next few weeks we’ll be making some more developments to the library as well as creating an electronic catalogue of the whole collection and a formal borrowing system. Once complete, we’re planning to hold a little opening party that will also act to inform and promote the library and school facilties to the whole community.
Once again, everyone from the Sekolah Gunung Team would like to give a big thanks to all our supporters and donors for making these changes happen. It has also been incredibly exciting to see how much these changes seem to be inspiring new activities and energies in other parts of the the community, begging the wonderful question of what else might grow from the seeds we have planted?