Following Hōkūleʻa’s momentous arrival in Cape Town, South Africa, crewmembers and a delegation of Hawaii students, teachers and families visited St. Mary’s Catholic Primary School to present 50 Tutudesks featuring artwork inspired by the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage.
A shortage of over 95 million school desks has hindered literacy development in Sub-saharan Africa. The Tutudesk initiative aims to provide 20 million lap desks to students across Sub-saharan Africa by 2020.
Vuyiswa Lebenya, Principal at St. Mary’s Catholic Primary School, said, “Education is very important. So this lap desk will help them, because they are going to have space at home to do their homework. Even in the classroom, it’s going to help the teacher to do individual work with each child.”
After the presentation, students from Hawaiʻi and the student’s of St. Mary’s Catholic Primary School shared in a cultural exchange.
Nainoa Thompson, President of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, said, “To have this celebration half way around the world with South Africa’s children, it’s our children and so I just think I’m very, feel very humbled and honored to have a chance to be here in the moment. What was so amazing was our children joined their children and they danced together. That’s what world peace is about. This was a very deep, powerful experience for me and I think for everybody and it’s a precious moment precious time, lucky to be here.”
Lebenya said, “It was inspiring, it was inspiring for the children. And they enjoyed it and what I like most in this is children will learn how important education is. They enjoyed it, they enjoyed. I feel blessed.”
An additional 1,000 mālama honua inspired desks will be delivered to township schools in the Durban, South Africa area in early 2016.