Secondary Project: Government Primary School Nuku’alofa Library Development
4 o’ Sanuali, Monite: (3 Weeks until the school year begins)
Rob and I rode our bikes to the school early Monday morning; I was ready to begin/kamata. My first day plan was limited in scope and contained only two items:
1. Document the state of the library prior to development through photographs.
2. Spray the entire area thoroughly with Mortein (DDT).
We gained access to the building which houses the library, took “before” pictures, doused the nooks and crannies, stacks and racks, boxes and bags with an entire can of black label Mortein (the deadliest kind), and made our escape.
5 o’ Sanuali, Tusite:
Today was the first real work day in the library. I arrived wearing long pants, shoes and socks, a long-sleeved shirt, and a baseball cap with my hair pulled into a pony tail. My final piece of protective apparel: latex gloves accessed from my medical kit. Finally, I covered every inch of my skin that was showing with Tabard mosquito repellent. I was not going to invite any chance encounters with the various creatures that presently inhabit the library.
I didn’t really know where to start…but fell back on my natural inclination to organize, compiling all similar items into piles/stacks/boxes/corners.
1. The lawn mower and accompanying implements: grass catcher, gas can, rake, etc., were placed by the front door (for speedy removal?)
2. All the recreation equipment was placed in one big box: akapulu/rugby balls, hula hoops, volleyballs, paddles with foam balls, volleyball net, soka/soccer balls, etc.
3. The facilities maintenance items were grouped on an available horizontal surface: light bulbs, packages of toilet paper, screws and nails, locks/keys, fluorescent tubes, chain link fencing, etc.
4. Boxes of fabric, evidently for the occasional putu/funeral; yards and yards of black fabric that had been stuffed under the book shelves were removed.
5. The old dilapidated computers: monitors, mouses, CPUs, keyboards, speakers and such were placed in a pile by the door (hopefully these are NOT the computers/komipiutas that I am supposed to use for another of my secondary projects: “Creating a computer-friendly environment at Nuku’alofa G.P.S.)
6. Crossing guard equipment was compiled: flags, aprons, pylons, etc.
7. Boxes of copy paper were placed under the copy machine in the principal’s office part of the building.
8. An amazing array of empty bottles/cans/jars: vodka, gin, beer, soda, mason jars, cans filled with sand (the principal smokes in the building), etc., were tossed in the garbage bins. An aside: a sign hangs over the door to the building which states: Tapu ifi tapaka=No smoking.
9. The various boxes of teacher resources were assembled on an available horizontal surface, most of which did not show any signs of use and fell into the category of mathematics manipulatives: sarobans/abaci, craft sticks, counters, chalkboards, geometric shapes/solids, base ten blocks, etc. There was also a plastic volcano to be used in combustion experiments.
10. A lost and found corner was dedicated to all the various shoes, coats, socks, backpacks, and shirts that were discovered amid the stacks and boxes.
11. A box of uniforms was placed with the recreation equipment.
12. Various teacher-looking documents: tests/files/reports/portfolios (yes, portfolios, I was surprised as well) were stacked on one of the many horizontal spaces available.
I next set to work on the boxes and boxes of books. Many aid organizations send their discarded and deleted books to third world countries, among them the Kingdom of Tonga. Since there has not been anyone responsible for maintaining the library at Nuku’alofa GPS, the boxes were simply tossed into any available corner. The existing hostile environment which includes high humidity, cockroaches, termites, dirt, and mice (rats?) did a great deal of damage to these books that were already in rather precarious condition.
As I opened the boxes, I was just as likely to find a copy of a college level Economics text, a classic by Charles Dickens, a thriller by Sue Grafton, or a picture book by Dr. Seuss. I began a new pile: books to be given to a high school/college library.
Many of the books were suffering from the aforementioned situation so I decided to begin a pressing operation, with the goal of coercing the books back into their former shape. I unfolded pages and stacked books of like size together. It was through this process that I discovered some real jewels: Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach, the entire Chronicles of Narnia series, Judith Viorst’s Alexander and the Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit, among others.
I opened dozens of boxes…always wondering what I would find. I cleared out one area completely, which provided me with access to half of the library’s stacks. I began to work on the other side…but my energy was waning and I was beginning to drip (and droop) from the increasing heat and all the protective clothing I was wearing. While I had encountered a few creatures, I was pleasantly surprised at the low death count (from the Mortein spray of 24 hours previous). As I began phase two, however, I came across an impressively sized cockroach fully engaged in his death throes (the Mortein doesn’t really kill them but it does slow them down, you have to dispatch them with a hard-soled shoe or similar weapon). I nudged him aside with my shoe and kept on going. When I moved a box and unearthed two similar sized nemeses, I decided it was time to conduct a second dousing with Mortein, which, of course, necessitated my departure. The adventure continues….
7 o’ Sanuali, Tuapulelu:
I have been in a bit of a “holding pattern” due to the fact that I really can’t make any further progress until I am able to discuss the situation with the principal/puleako who has been absent/nofo for the past few days. His wife assures me that he will return/foki soon.
One of my PCV colleagues, Carole Kallansrude, has been working on the development of a library in her school (a middle school in the village of Paea, not far from the capital) for the past year. I asked her for a “consult,” and she gladly accepted.
After a walk through, Carole highly recommended that I complete the initial clean-up PRIOR to the beginning of pre-service on January 18. She mistakenly did not do this and then had to justify throwing away every piece of junque/junk she found in her library, from broken inflatable globes to cracked jars to burned out light bulbs to basal readers from the 1950s.
She assured me that the condition of the Nuku’alofa GPS library is absolutely “typical,” except for the fact that there are intact shelves for the books. She had to have shelves built for her library (she collaborated with her church in America to fund the necessary improvements). She also was rather impressed with the extensive collection of teacher resource materials I had unearthed. It seems that I will be working at a “high SES” school for Tonga.
She also provided me with a copy of Setting Up and Running a School Library, by Nicola Baird (from Heinemann Publishers). I am committed to developing a library that is user-friendly and one that will be used after I return to America. This brings up the question of organization—what system will support optimum, continuing utilization. I’m not sure that the Dewey Decimal System will work in Tonga. I am hoping that Ms. Baird will have some suggestions for me.
While touring the library with Carole today, one of the Kalasi Ono/Class 6 teachers from the school dropped by (I later discovered that she is to be my counterpart at the school). She assured me that she would be more than happy to help with the library clean-up the following week since she is fully engaged in Uike Lotu/Week of Prayer activities this week. I know that success depends on collaboration with my counterparts and, therefore, welcome her offer of assistance. I hope to avail myself of her help next week—once I am able to meet with Puleako Sete.
Today I learned that the Tongan word for library is liapeli. So, there you go.
15 o’ Sanuali:
I am learning how projects proceed…or not…here in Tonga: one step forward…wait…one step forward…wait…one step forward…wait. As a result, I am also learning patience/fa’a kataki. Again, I have been in a holding pattern due to the absence of the principal/puleako. He has yet to make an appearance or answer his telephone (caller ID?)
Since Pre-service begins on Monday, I was a bit concerned about the status of the library/ principal’s office: stacks and piles and boxes creating an almost impenetrable barrier between the door and the principal’s desk. I decided to make an attempt to further organize the junk since it has become clear that I will not be able to remove it prior to the beginning of the academic year.
I also had one little corner that still needed to be cleared, or at least that’s the way I remembered it. I continued to wade through boxes of books, most of them the express territory of silver fish and termites. I also found more computer equipment, additional recreation supplies, a bag of cement, and a treasure trove of maintenance materials: hoe, shovel, PVC pipe in a variety of shapes and sizes, trowels, machetes, etc.
At this point, the library area is clear of non-library items. It remains to be seen whether or not I will be allowed to utilize the entire area as a library.
I have discovered that it was actually the PTA that petitioned Peace Corps for a volunteer, and they are the ones paying all the bills associated with a PCV: rent, utilities. PTA organizations are quite powerful in Tonga and have been known to have teachers and principals removed if not pleased with their performance. They are also MAJOR fundraising entities, supporting the schools with financial contributions that pay teacher salaries (when the Ministry of Education quits paying salaries, which they have been known to do), utility bills, and building residences for teachers (in most small communities, the teachers live on the premises). It will be interesting to discover who has the most power/authority at Nuku’alofa GPS: the principal or the PTA. Evidently Nuku’alofa GPS’s reputation has declined in recent years, as evidenced by declining test scores and the present principal was brought in last year to turn things around. It is unknown whether this change was made at the behest of the PTA, but I would imagine that they had something to do with it. This fact also puts a bit of pressure on me since the PTA is going to want to see some results for the money they are spending on a PCV—in the form of higher test scores. Since I have NEVER taught to the test in my life and feel like it is unethical—and ineffective to do so, this will present an interesting dilemma for me. I’m sure that everything will be revealed in due time. One step forward…wait…one step forward… wait….
21/22 o’ Sanuali:
Progress! I do believe that the puleako is feeling a bit of pressure to get something done with the library. When my timeline for progress, shared with the puleako at a “Partner’s Workshop” facilitated by Peace Corps, indicated a start date of March 1/1 o’ Ma’asi for the library, his ears perked up.
Thursday/Tu’apulelulu I completed my initial sort/clean-up. I encountered quite a bit of damage to the section of books—reference—closest to the windows where the mud dauber wasps had set up housekeeping—in the stacks of books. As stated earlier, this first sort was undertaken simply to identify what is and what isn’t.
The puleako hauled away (in my absence) much of the detritus I had removed from the library—to another location on the school campus/apiako. I would have preferred to have had the opportunity to further organize these materials for eventual use but I am thankful for the ability to now make progress in the actual library; I’ll deal with the missing/stored math/science materials later (perhaps in training workshops for the teachers?)
On Friday/Falaite, all teachers were supposed to be on site, preparing classrooms/lokiako for Monday/Monite when the children arrive. With the presence of male teachers with cars, the puleako “made hay.” He first organized a transfer of the hundreds of books I had removed as inappropriate for an elementary school library: Danielle Steele novels, guides to breastfeeding, college level textbooks, Nathaniel Hawthorne novels (The Scarlet Letter), etc. Rob was the happy recipient of these books since his secondary project is developing a library at Atenisi University.
I had contacted the head of GIO Recycling earlier in the week, a recycling company located in Nuku’alofa, about the e-waste I had unearthed. She arrived on Friday/Falaite and okayed the transfer of the dead computers/printer cartridges and cardboard. So Puleako Sete once again organized the men to haul off the e-waste.
The result: I now have room to organize and continue the work.
An aside: Since my work for Friday consisted of mucking about in the dead mouse carcasses and mud dauber wasp nests to be found in the library, I wore my typical set of protective clothing. The teachers, however, who were also supposed to be engaged in cleaning up/organizing their classrooms (there is no janitorial staff), came completely decked out: women in lots of black (black is the preferred color here in Tonga—go figure) polyester skirts/dresses, swathed in layers of satiny type blouses/scarves, and full-blown ta’ovalas, the woven mats worn around the waist. It made me sweat just to look at them.
Another aside: Evidently the U.S. Coast Guard is visiting Nuku’alofa in a couple of weeks and have offered to assist with school/community projects. While I really think that Nuku’alofa GPS should be razed and re-built from the ground up, that’s simply not in the budget. So, I have revised my vision to include mosquito screens on the windows, which would prevent the mud dauber wasps from building nests in the stacks of books. I have made a request to our Country Director for the Coast Guard’s help in this matter. It looks like it may be a “go!” Again, a bit of progress. Perhaps there is hope?
25 ki 29 ‘o Sanuali:
Whoa nelly! I wasn’t sure what to expect this week since, technically, the academic year begins in earnest. To me, coming from a western perspective, that means that teaching and learning starts. Evidently, that is not what it means to the Tongans. Children did arrive in their requisite uniforms but instead of engaging in lessons, they engaged in moving benches and desks, sweeping classrooms and cleaning up the school yard.
Since there is no actual teaching going on, however, there are no expectations that I should facilitate instruction either. So, I’ve been free to continue my work in the library.
Removal continues. I have thrown away stacks and stacks of outdated lesson plans, old exams and student records. Whenever I show something to the puleako in order to ask his permission to throw it away, he responds with, “It’s very old.” And then he motions to the garbage can.
I have discovered a respectable amount of literature—donated by the New Zealand High Commission—that is meant to be used in shared reading situations. It is doubtful that the material was used in this manner since I would find a copy here, another copy there, and a couple more copies stuffed in the bottom of a box. I am hoping to help the teachers develop their repertoire of techniques for sharing literature with children. Perhaps then, these materials may be more fully utilized.
I also found quite a few big books; again, to be used in shared reading. I am planning to put these into use as soon as classes begin visiting the library…March 1.
Thus far, the only factors I have taken into consideration are those related to organization of the library, along with the environment itself. As yet I don’t have the courage to consider the documentation required for a check-out system. Te eki ai/not yet.
I am hoping to develop a Teacher’s Resource Library in conjunction with the children’s library. I now realize that the very sparse resources the teachers do have are poorly organized and even more poorly cared for. In order for the teachers to be more effective, they must have resources available to them, know how to access those resources, and then know how to utilize those resources. Step One includes identification and organization of the resources for eventual use. I have spent some time this week working on this task.
The principal notified me Thursday at noon that my attendance would be required at a meeting of the Executive Committee of the PTA to take place at some point on Thursday/Tu’apulelulu (meetings never have actual starting/ending times). Fine. As I began to prepare for my departure at the end of the day, I attempted to locate the principal so I could notify him. I noticed a group of people gathered in a classroom, which included the principal. I quickly realized that this was the meeting I was supposed to attend. The Vice Principal intersected me and hurried me to the office indicating that I was not, indeed, supposed to be in attendance. Fine…but weird.
The next day, I was informed that the principal had asked the PTA to provide funds to enlarge the library/office building, due to the fact that I would require the additional space to provide for all the thousands of books I am having sent from America. 1) I did not request an addition to the building; 2) I have not mentioned any number of books coming from America only that there are people in America who are committed to donating books for the library. I was also told that the PTA informed the principal that he could simply move out of the building into the former principal’s office since the building had initially been built FOR A LIBRARY (this is news to me!) The PTA also, however, thinks that it might be a good idea to enlarge the building so they are planning to schedule a koniseti/concert in order to raise money for the project (this is NOT like any concert you could envision, so don’t even try). Again, no one has asked me for any input on this subject.
So, such are the challenges of completing projects in collaboration with host country counterparts (a Peace Corps term that is bandied about). Stay tuned as this exciting project evolves….
Next week (Feb. 1 to 5), I begin observing in the 4, 5, and 6 grade classes so my time for working on the library will be limited to the afternoons. Unless, of course, the principal needs me to make copies of the lesson plan guides for the teachers—or make coffee.
Highlight of the Week: The principal took me around and introduced me to all the 4, 5, and 6 grade classes on Thursday (a day when the children were all in their classes for some strange reason?) Once the children knew who I was and what I was about (teaching/library), they began to express their interest/intentions. On Friday, I had children lined up at the door to the library asking to come in and read books (there are no books to read in their classrooms or in their homes and there are no public libraries in Tonga). Bring on the cockroaches! Damn the molokaus! Children begging to read should be given opportunities to do so…and I’m just the person to provide those opportunities. Plans for a “Lunch Reading Club” and the “After School Reading Club” are beginning to take shape.
1 ki 5 ‘o Fepueli:
Here come the Marines! Okay, it was really the Coast Guard but, all the same, I found myself wanting to salute and sing the national anthem. The USCG arrived with paint brushes and rollers in hand and quickly set to work. One small crew took on the job of painting all the doors to the classrooms. The Tongans were especially fascinated with this work crew because it was made up of WOMEN! WOMEN who were allowed to paint! (During my homestay experience, I was told that women don’t paint; they take care of babies). Another work crew installed mosquito screens on the library building, therefore securing the building…and the books…against the mud dauber wasps and their need to build nests in the book stacks. God bless America.
8 ki 12 ‘o Fepueli:
Slow, but steady progress has been made the past couple of weeks. Much of the work that I need to do requires the assistance of manpower and vehicle power. This has been in short supply. But things are beginning to take shape.
I have convinced the puleako that he really can fulfill his job responsibilities with one desk and files/file cabinets—rather than the 4 tables he had used previously, stacked with piles of school records, outdated exams, PTA files, etc. Evidently he had never seen or used a file system, although the office contained two large file cabinets. We have successfully, methodically, removed stack after stack from table after table and either disposed of it/them or filed them. Isn’t organization/ fokotu’utu’u grand?!
This development has allowed me to move the puleako into one section (about a fourth of the building), while reserving one section (again, about a fourth of the building) for a Teacher’s Resource Library/workspace, leaving just a little over half of the building for the Children’s Library.
I have been able to move two large glass-fronted cabinets/shelves (about 10 feet long) from the Children’s Library area to the Teacher’s Resource Library and will use them to house the math, science and craft materials—labeling them for effective utilization by the teachers. I am also moving the copy machines and computer (without internet) to a different area, providing a large, open area for a workspace. Finally, I have created a vertical file containing all the Tongan language literature I have been able to find. Eventually, I intend to type up all this material, laminate, and put on file for easy access.
With the removal of the above-mentioned items, I have almost cleared enough space for an entire class to visit the library. I have one more very large storage unit to move…somewhere…and I’ll be able to set up the library for classes to visit. Perhaps we will reach our goal of a March 1 opening, after all. Of course, that will mean cleaning all the books/shelves, finding appropriate mats/floor covering to cover the floor, and a categorization/labeling system that makes sense—for the children (many of whom are non-readers in either Tongan or English), for the teachers, and for me.
15 ‘o Fepueli:
This week I had hoped to make the final push to cleaning and organizing the library for its grand opening. Instead, I am typing this at the Peace Corps office, under a Code Red: Consolidation order. Cyclone Rene is scheduled to pass over the main island of Tongatapu in a few short hours. We have had “squally thunder storms” (the Tongan’s term) since 4:00 a.m. The Internet and electricity went down earlier this morning (PC headquarters, however, has a generator), and we, like all of our PC colleagues are waiting out the storm. We will be required to spend a second night at the office tonight, hopefully returning to our homes tomorrow. This, of course, will depend on the damage caused by Rene. At the minimum, there will not be any school—or work on the library—either Monday or Tuesday of this week—Mahalo pe Pulelulu/Wednesday?
20-21 ‘o Fepueli:
Cycone Rene has come and gone with surprisingly little damage to the library: Whew! This past weekend I was able to move the last piece of unwanted furniture from the library area. We now have a clear space measuring about 20 ft. by 20 ft. . The next challenge, as noted above, will be to find something to cover the floor and provide seating for children. Currently, it is covered with a variety of pieces of torn, stained, disgusting capeti (a sort of very flimsy linoleum). Perhaps the PTA would like to donate floor covering from the $5,000.00 they raised for library development/ expansion.
I have also been notified that next week I will fly to Fiji for some medical appointments/tests, which will mean that I will lose yet another week of work at my site. I am hoping to make a great deal of progress/fakalakalaka this week. Wish me luck.
24-28 ‘o Fepueli, 1-5 Ma’asi, 8-12 ‘o Ma’asi:
My teaching responsibilities have been so all-consuming the past few weeks that I have spent very little time on the library project. And, consequently, we were not able to open the library on March/Ma’asi 1. This has been a disappointment for me, personally, but I think that it has been instructive for the puleako and the rest of the staff—I can’t do it on my own. So, the principal has organized a small work crew for me consisting of a handful (2 to 4) of young student teachers who are spending the next 4 weeks at our school. I have given them the task of cleaning all the books—one by one. One of the students informed me that her “passion” is books and reading and that prior to the beginning of this year she organized a library for her church school: yippee! This has turned out to be a good news/bad news scenario. Due to her love of books, she quite often gets distracted by this or that book and has to spend some time reading this or that passage. In addition, her idea of organization has nothing to do with fiction/nonfiction or alphabetical order. After cleaning, she has placed the books back on the shelves in order of their height. All the same, I am thankful for the help and I will re-organize the books after the student teachers leave.
The puleako has convinced me that we need additional shelving in the library! Evidently, the existing shelving/books didn’t appear impressive enough. So, a construction crew which has been hard at work this past week repairing the tables and benches used for desks, have also built me a lovely little bookshelf which I will be able to use to hold the baskets of books slated for use by the Class 1 and 2 children.
I convinced the puleako that the floor is simply too disgusting for children to sit on so he then convinced the PTA’s Executive Committee that flooring must be purchased (it sounds like there has been a great deal of ‘convincing’ going on, doesn’t it?) We now have two rolls of brand new capeti awaiting installation. Oh, my kingdom for a vacuum cleaner!
For the past week (in my free time), I have been scrubbing and cleaning the bookshelves, walls, windows and doors. The Tongans have a curious habit of gluing newsprint on every available surface. This job has been made even more challenging because there aren’t any effective cleaning agents available in Tonga. I have had to rely on cold water, a great deal of elbow grease, patience, and Ajax cleanser. Thank you, Ajax. Now, these same surfaces must be covered with colorful, inviting images. I engaged a gaggle of Class Six girls to help me with this task.
I found a couple of outdated atlases that had been discarded from the Peace Corps library—one in Spanish and the other in French. The girls cut out the various maps—precipitation patterns in South America, land forms in Asia, topographical maps of all the continents—and glued them to the back of a bookcase that was in terrible shape. As they cut and pasted, we discussed the various continents and Tonga’s place in the world: The kingdom of Tonga is located in the South Pacific Ocean; Tonga’s closest neighbor is Fiji; Tonga is part of the continent of Australia/Oceania, etc. We now have a colorful and instructive surface for the library’s visitors to enjoy. I plan to cover this surface with clear contact paper to help preserve the girls’ efforts.
I discovered that I have been assigned to the Literacy Committee—actually I am the Chair of this committee! Evidently, the committee’s primary task is to plan and facilitate “Literacy Week,” which according to the academic calendar, was to take place the third week in February (I was informed of my position as Chair of the committee the Friday before). My first action as Chair was to postpone Literacy Week for a month. So, I am hopeful that the Grand Opening of the library will take place during Literacy Week, March 22 to 26. Keeping my fingers crossed….
My latest inspiration: I’ve decided to paint the doors to the library BRIGHT, BELIOUS RED!!! Won’t it be grand for the children to enter the happy place that is the library through the red doors that lead to the magic kingdom of books?! I wonder if I can get the PTA to pay for the paint? I am beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Christmas in Ma’asi?
I just received my first box of books! I decided that I simply couldn’t open the library without at least one author collection so I ordered twenty or so Eric Carle books from Amazon, had them shipped to my sister in the States, and she then shipped them on to me. What a delight it will be to share these fabulous stories with the bright-eyed Class 1/2/3 children. I have heard that I have at least two more shipments of books somewhere “in the pipeline.” With only one week to go to the Grand Opening, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the two cyclones (Tomas and Ului) currently brewing in my neighborhood do not slow down cross-Pacific shipping.
Highlight of the Week:
I received a handful of books from a delegation of Canadian visitors and this past week shared one of these books, I Love You Always and Forever, with the Class 4 children. I informed them that they would be able to find…and read…this book in the library once it was open. One day this past week while I was scrubbing and drudging the glue off the walls, I heard a small voice calling: “Ms. Kefi… Ms. Kefi…Ms. Kefi,” and turned to find a small boy peeking in the doorway. He asked if he could read the book about Littletail and Longtail and then proudly displayed his clean hands (I had told them that books are very special treasures and we must take very good care of them, always washing our hands before handling them). I gladly obliged. Such moments make all the drudgery worthwhile.
Ma’asi 21, A Prelude to the Grand Opening:
Next week, March 22 to 26, is, as noted earlier, Literacy Week, including the Grand Opening of the Library. It’s going to happen!
This past week, I continued with cleaning activities, as well as organizing and labeling the library’s contents. In the U.S., this would have been an easy task (the labeling), but here in Tonga, it, of course, is somewhat more time intensive. I do have access to a computer/printer so I was able to create nicely lettered signage. But, mounting the signage proved another matter. I have joined the ranks of Tongan educators who can do almost anything with a cardboard box. Cardboard boxes of any type and every shape and size are one of the most prized possessions of the Tongan teacher. They are used for organization of the classroom materials, as wall covering to keep out the elements, as rubbish containers, and a variety of other purposes. Recycling, at least of cardboard boxes, is alive and well in Tonga. So, this past week, I cut apart cardboard boxes (until I ‘broke’ my hand), glued labels to them, let them dry, and then glued them to the shelves, securing them with tacks to keep them in place until the glue dried. It works and it’s really about the only solution.
Yesterday (Saturday,) Rob and I tore out the old capeti (linoleum). I had been encouraged to simply leave the old stuff in place and put the new capeti over the top to add softness. I thought that plan ill-advised since I had seen a hint of the detritus lurking underneath. As we ripped and removed, I found moldy newspapers (more cushioning?) slime, ant nests, muck and mold. So, we were able to complete the removal job but not the installation work. I used my trusty Buck knife to scrape most of the muck from the concrete floor and then sprinkled Ajax on the most egregious spots in an attempt to kill the mold, etc. We then had to leave the floor to dry overnight and will finish installation today (but since no work is allowed on Sunday in the kingdom, please don’t mention this to anyone).
I have also begun painting the doors. Oh, my goodness what a difference a good coat of paint makes. I purchased the paint myself so I could be assured of obtaining quality paint. Most of the paint used in Tonga is CRAP! (Sorry for the indelicacy but there’s simply no other word that is adequate). I have successfully put two coats of paint on the interior surface of the doors, waiting for the cyclone to pass, but still have much more preparation work to do on the exterior surfaces before I can finish the job. Again, this would be a job that would take minutes with an electric sander but my only tool is my Buck knife so I have once again put it to work. I have also decided to paint the baseboards (totally disgusting) and a couple of bookshelves, adding to the festive feel.
I made the mistake of looking up while I was wallpapering the walls with pictures gleaned from discarded books, and now know that I’m going to have to scrub the ceiling, which is also covered with mold. One might wonder if this job will ever end?
Tomorrow, classes will begin visiting the library. I have instructed the teachers to take their class by the faucet first, making sure that everyone comes with clean hands. I plan to provide each class with an orientation to the library based on their needs/abilities, and then read them an Eric Carle poem from the Animals! Animals! Compendium I had sent. On Friday, the BIG GRAND OPENING for the public will take place. Finally.