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Village Life in the Solomon Islands



Mbabanga Village, Gizo Island


Photos of Mbabanga Village

By Richard Moore

IT WAS slightly painful, cute, a little bit awkward and yet so endearing that meeting a kindergarten class in a tiny, remote village of Mbabanga became one of the highlights of a very eventful visit to the Solomon Islands.

Through intermittently heavy rain we had walked for about 20 minutes through jungle and tall coconut palm plantations to get to the home of 300 islanders – a clean and well laid out collection of pole huts and buildings made from local hard wood and thatched palm fronds.

Some homes had tin roofs using rusting corrugated iron.

We came to Mbabanga to see life as it is for most Solomon Islanders who live away from the big cities.

It was basic.

Fresh water comes from tanks collecting rainwater and obtained through a PVC pipe centrally placed like a modern-day well.

And it probably wasn’t the right day to come as the skies were grey, the sea was grey and well, it was humid and very wet. But, when you are on a tight schedule, you need to get out and about in all weathers and worry later about finding a good cloth to dry off the camera gear.

The kindy was set in a thatched building with a split-level floor.

On one side was a raised sandy area, while the classes were held on the lower area on woven frond matting.

It was cool and decorative.

The bottom half of the class’ walls was rough wood paneling and the top sections open to the elements, although sturdy wire grills served as places to hang class work.

We were welcomed at the door by Jacinta, the kindy teacher, and given flower headwear by three of the little kids.

The flowers were definitely not my cup of tea but to refuse the offering would be rude and they did smell beautiful.

Then we were treated to a song as the class introduced themselves by each one singing: “My name is …. And I love the Lord.”

There were 18 kids in the kindy class, although Jacinta confided that a number of them were younger brothers and sisters who came along to join in.

They were aged between three and five, dressed in a variety of clothes and colours and all had big dark eyes.

We took photos and – as a really good icebreaker we discovered while touring the islands – we showed the class the images on our digital devices. They crowded around and their reactions were fun – all were delighted to see themselves on an iPad or back of my camera.

It was probably the first time in their lives they’d seen pictures of themselves.

Once Jacinta restored a bit or order – mainly among we visitors – the class sang us some songs and did some dances.

The girls were very shy and did a cute, but unwiggly, version of a native dance. The lads – boisterous even at that age – did an energetic dance I took to be the local challenge.

Then, dancing complete, it was time to go.

We stood and my female travelling companions were farewelled by the kids, but the young fellow designated to be my “Goodbye Guy” burst into tears saying he was scared of me.

Hardly surprising as I was twice the size of the men in the village and my shade of slighty-tanned pink I guess is a bit of a rarity in these parts.

As are children’s books and so I made a mental note that upon my return home I would delve into my storage unit and get a collection of suitable titles from the ones I used to read to my kids and send them over to Jacinta and her charges.

To me they only contain memories, but for the island children they could open their eyes to a different world … much as those kids did for me.



Richard Moore stayed on Mbabanga Island courtesy of Fatboys Resort and the Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau. International and internal flights to Gizo Island were provided by Solomons Airlines. Website




Copyright 2014 RICHARD MOORE