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PEEPS AT BAC: Asha wins Australia Day award for mission project

Category: Peeps at BAC

Submitted by on Fri 17/02/17 13:15

During the Russell Island Australia Day ceremonies just over a week ago, a 2016 BAC graduate was awarded Youth Islander of the Year by the local mayor. The honour was bestowed on 17 year old Asha Morgan for setting up a humanitarian project called the Batuna Girls Project with her classmates Gisreine Nyandwi and Ciara Henley.
The three Year 12s were inspired after volunteering on the College Sonship trip this past September, which took them to the remote Batuna Adventist Vocational School in Marovo Lagoon. Sonship is a registered supportive ministry of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
“We were staying in a proper house but were given the privilege of walking through the girls’ dorms. We found that the bathroom was pretty much non-existent. The girls go to the bathroom in the mangroves. Their only real toilet is a pit with a roof and no walls around it.
“The toilet in our accommodation was a proper flushing one, but because it was that time of the month for me it made me think about what it would be like for the local girls,” says Asha.
The Solomon Island population is dispersed over 330 of the 990 islands, making the type of toilet and hygiene facilities we are familiar with in Australia virtually nonexistent for 80 percent of people who currently live in rural areas. It’s not surprising that this is a major challenge for remote schools like Batuna. 
A 2015 UNICEF report says that teenagers sometimes spend the week of their monthly menstruation out of the classroom because of the lack of hygienic facilities and suitable sanitary products, and the embarrassment associated with menstruation being a topic of social taboo in Solomon Island communities. Teenage girls have been known to miss up to two full months of schooling a year.  
Asha says that Gisreine and Ciara also formed strong connections with the girls at Batuna and they made the collective decision to do something about the issue. Upon their return to BAC, they approached Sonship Action Team Leader Clinton Jackson with a plan, raising $7,000 through sausage sizzles at school, a gofundme fundraising campaign, and by presenting their cause to people at church events. “People were so generous. Someone dropped $1,000 off in an envelope at the front office.”
The Batuna Girls project is working in partnership with Days for Girls (the Mount Warning chapter). Volunteers involved in the organisation hand sew reusable sanitary pads and collect personal items to assist in the ongoing dignity and comfort of young women as they stay at school during their monthly menstrual cycle. 
Asha, Gisreine and Ciara will use the money they have raised to ship the items to Batuna in the June/July holidays this year. They will also return to help run workshops for the young women, focussing on how to use and maintain their kits. The BAC graduates will be travelling with the Sonship medical boat, Medisonship, staffed with local nurses who will be offering free medical assistance to villagers. The girls will look for ways to advance the project, including the possibility of building washing facilities where the Batuna girls can comfortably and privately clean and maintain their reusable pads.
Asha, Gisreine and Ciara have now completed high school, but they say: "You don’t need to be in a school leadership position to be a proper leader.” 
If you would like to donate to the next phase of this worthwhile cause, please contact the College on 07 33476444.

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