I was really impressed with how the communities have taken ownership of the projects. For example, while we've provided cash grants for the construction or improvement of early childhood education centres, they’ve rallied to raise additional money for more improvements to the schools and are actively engaged in the construction process as well.
One village has put in a sustainable water-piping system so that children no longer have to lug jerry cans of water to school each day to wash their hands and to drink from.
I was there to see a new playground installed and the first lot of new teaching materials and books delivered to the new project. While the teachers were very excited about the new resources, the kids were definitely more interested in the new play equipment!
I then went to the neighbouring province of Belu where, for the last three years, you’ve been supporting hundreds of young students to learn to read. Our work there is just about to finish and talk about seeing the difference! We visited one school and it was awesome to watch the teachers engaging with the students and to see all of the colourful posters and drawings in the classrooms.
It was clearly a very positive learning environment and I could tell that the students actually wanted to be there. It was such a stark contrast to the bare and uninviting rooms I saw in other schools, which are still at the very beginning stages of the project.