Dear Friends and Supporters of St Andrew's High School in Tonga
We must apologise for being out of touch for so long, but it has been difficult to find out what has been happening at the school this year. We couldn't make our usual visit to Tonga over the winter months because of the Covid19 restrictions on travel, so that was an enormous frustration. This means, too, that we have no up-to-date photos of the school for this newsletter – so we are printing some good ones from previous years!
Photo shows Sr Fehoko (right), the school chaplain, at the wedding of an ex-student – with his bride, centre
However, we have just in the past week or so received confirmation that money we sent to the school earlier in the year was spet on paying fees for many of the needy students at St Andrew's, as well as the four tertiary students we selected (from twelve applicants) to receive support for their study.
Because we have been unable to do any building or other projects at the school this year, we have used your donations to pay for these St Andrew's ex-students to continue their tertiary studies at the University of the South Pacific and Tupou Tertiary Institute. We feel that encouraging school-leavers to continue on into tertiary study is most important, and the fees for these tertiary institutes are quite hefty compared with school fees. So it has been really good to draw on the donations you have sent during the year - thank you very much indeed.
Right: a group of students cleaning the school kitchen, under the watchful eye of Naimila (right) the lovely deputy-principal who died last year.
Earlier in the year we also used some of your donations to pay for Kaveinga Vaka's visa so that he could get over to Auckland to begin his studies at Auckland University. He is there on a scholarship from the Diocese of Polynesia, which didn't seem to extend to paying his visa fees. Having now completed his initial diploma at St John's College where he is living, he is due to audition for a place at Auckland University's School of Music in a few days' time.
Photo: Kaveinga (centre)
with two of his NZ mentors – Justin Pearce and Katherine Hodge, teachers at Onslow
More recently we have used some of your donations to pay the school's Microsoft software licence fee. Some of you may remember that Aiscorp in Johnsonville very generously gave the school a huge amount of computer equipment and hardware a few years ago. This was on the understanding that the school would pay the annual Microsoft software licence fee, which covers the whole school. We discovered a couple of months ago that they hadn't had enough money to pay this year's fee, and that there would be dire consequences, so we quickly sent over money for it.
Photo: students try out the new computer system and Microsoft software installed by Aiscorp in 2016. Technician Peter, flown to Tonga specially by Aiscorp, in background with white shorts.
So we have been VERY grateful to have been able to use the funds you have sent us over this past year in a variety of ways, even though we haven't been able to spend any time there ourselves.
We certainly hope that this situation will be remedied next year, and that we'll be able to go back and support the school in practical as well as financial ways.
We send our thanks and best wishes for Christmas and the summer.
Simon and Rachel