Tomara is one of the smaller islands that is a part of the Bacan islands located in South Halmahera, North Maluku. There are more over 1000 people who live in Tomara, which is known to be rich in spices and copra.After school, the children of Tomara spend their afternoons playing at a nearby bridge. You can find some of the kids fishing to bring back home for dinner. While some can be found bathing at the sea with their friends.
On the day of my arrival at Tomara, I was greeted by strong winds and rain. I got on a long boat that took about 2 hours in that stormy weather. I remember shivering throughout the journey. This was my first time on a longboat after 4 years. I used to take longboats often when I was in Papua.
The monsoon season has just begun. I was worried that the rains would prevent me from carrying out my activities with the children. Luckily, it only rained once during my brief stay. It only rained on the day of my arrival. My host mother in Tomara said the rain was a sign of blessing. Amen, I hope so too.
The next day, I met up with the Tomara primary school principal to discuss about the plans of moving Rainbow Reading Gardens’ library from its’ previous location to the school. I expected reluctance from his side but to my surprise he was happy and willing! He even donated 4 shelves for additional storage.
Together, we thought of a plan to start the move immediately. We started by cleaning up the storage room that would be the library. After it was clean, supplies were bought and walls were repainted in bright colors to excite the children when they come by to read.
Teachers and students worked together in setting up the library. Since there were many parties involved, the move finished quicker than expected.
I could see the glee in the children’s eyes as they saw how they managed to transform the dreary storage room to a bright and homely library. As they saw new books filling the book shelves, they couldn’t help but take them out to read.
Seeing the joy and camaraderie of the people of Tomara motivated me to do as much as I can to keep them happy. Their spirit was contagious. As a volunteer I felt a sense of gratitude overcome me, as it was the combined effort of many people to help this process.
I’d take this opportunity to thank my host parents in Tomara for providing food and a warm shelter throughout my stay. My host mother even bought me sandals! My host father took me on his boat to fish and go on picnics on the beach.
The days I spent in Tomara were one of the best days of my life. The children and elderly women that I’ve become friends me asked me when I will return to Tomara. I will keep my promise to them and return one day.
Before I left Tomara, I went on a picnic to the nearby waterfalls with the children, my new found friends. Although we got lost on our way, we had fun!
Oh! You might not believe that I saw dolphins jumping out of the water on my way from Tomara. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to take any pictures for proof as I was awestruck! While none of my friends back home would believe me, it is a memory that I will cherish forever.
Although I’m sad that I have to leave the beautiful island of Tomara, I’m also very happy to know that the children have a new place they can spend their afternoon at.
I hope you enjoy your books kids!
Tomara, November 2015