An unexpected benefit of the project is that the older craftsmen are able to teach all the skills necessary to the next entire generation: selecting the trees, chopping them down, carving, shaping, finishing—it’s like canoe lab 101, 102, 103.
Normally, when only one canoe gets made every couple of years, by one family, the experience is limited. Making 16 in a matter of weeks has created a crash course for the younger people. You can already see the guys who are getting it—they have the eye for the line of the hull and the talent for shaving the wood.
With so many canoes, every aspect of construction gets experienced—even calamity. On a particularly bad day, four canoes developed cracks during transport form the jungle. The older matai know what to do and are teaching the kids. Using a putty made from a local nut (of course), they seal the crack, and using modern hardware (scrap metal and brads), they secure the patch.
Preparations are being made for a dedication ceremony, which will include an ava (kava) ceremony and a canoe race, food and dancing, honored guests, and TV (if they can get here). This is a big moment for the village to get some attention on a national level and Rev. Fepai knows how to take advantage of the opportunity—ultimately to the benefit of the community.
That day will also mark a huge success for MicroAid as we finish yet another project that helps victims of a disaster return to self-sufficiency, and beyond.