On behalf of GPS Matamaka and Peace Corps Tonga, I would like to send a big thank you to Broadway Dental and Rich and Cheri Bockelmann of Denison, Iowa for their generous donations of twenty-five children toothbrushes and six toothpaste tubes to the children of GPS Matamaka. The children were super excited to get their new toothbrushes for the 2010 school year. As a high school graduate of the class 2005 of Manning High School, it has been great to receive some support from others in Western Iowa during my twenty-seven months Peace Corps service in the Kingdom of Tonga.
I emphasized the importance of dental hygiene with the twenty students of GPS Matamaka. Each student brought a plastic bottle to keep their toothbrush in for the whole year. The students all wrote their names on the bottle to make sure no one uses another student’s toothbrush. I started the morning lesson with questioning students who actually brushed their teeth that morning. Only two students raised their hand. Consequently, I asked them all if they know why it was important to brush their teeth every day. After explaining what candies can do to your teeth if you do not brush regularly, most of the students were very eager to brush their teeth and fight cavities!
(PHOTO: Class 1 to 3 students)
The rest of the lesson took place outside where students filled their water bottles with water and rinsed their new toothbrush. Before giving each student some toothpaste, I told them all that they should sing the ABCs in their head while they are brushing their teeth. So, we all practiced humming the ABCs while pretending to brush our teeth. After a couple rounds of the ABCs, they were finally ready to brush their teeth!
It was very amusing to watch the students in class one to three brush their teeth. As each student sung their ABCs, toothpaste was getting all over their little faces and their newly washed school uniforms. OAIUE! (Tongan phrase for “Oh, man!” in English). Following a couple of candid photos, we all rinsed our mouth and headed back to the classroom. I ended up sending three to five of the younger students to the bathroom since toothpaste was still all over their faces.
(PHOTO: A picture after humming our ABCs)
In the end, we all had a good time and the students all loved their new toothbrushes! We will continue the “SMILE GPS MATAMAKA” program everyday for the rest of the school year. Students will brush their teeth in the morning before the flag ceremony and also after lunch. My principal and co-teacher were very impressed with the outcome of the successful event. Once again, I want to give a BIG thank you to all of those to help make this happen in our very small outer island school. Thanks to their contribution, there are more healthy smiles in Tonga! The children all send a huge MALO ‘AUPITO!
(PHOTO: GPS Matamaka 2010, all the class one students went home already by the time we took this photo.)
***If any readers want to help contribute/support to any current and future projects at GPS Matamaka, please feel free to contact me. We are always looking for more philanthropists to help improve the overall well-being of the students and the community of Matamaka and Tonga. ‘Ofa atu!