Martina: one rhyme at a time

Martina, a teacher in the Solomon Islands, enjoys clapping and singing with the children in her classroom. She knows they are not only having fun but also learning life-saving skills.

Nursery rhymes break down the fear associated with natural disasters."

Songs and rhymes are important teaching tools. In the Solomon Islands, nursery rhymes are helping to save children’s lives.

Using well-known tunes and simple lyrics, children learn what to do in the event of potential disasters that face the Solomon Islands such as cyclones, floods, earthquakes and tsunamis.

“Nursery rhymes break down the fear associated with natural disasters, and also help children memorise the rhymes and the emergency response,” said Martina. “They enjoy the singing.”

Martina’s school in Ngossi is in a region, much like many in the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, that is prone to all manner of natural disasters. It’s very important for the young children to learn strategies to be safe during disasters and emergencies.

“Our homes are under threat. We have the cyclone season that runs from November to March annually, so this type of disaster is a big risk,” said Martina.

Adam Elliott, Caritas Australia’s Solomon Islands and Vanuatu Program Manager, said disasters often occur early in the morning when the children are at school.

“The children take this disaster risk management to their homes,” said Adam. “They sing songs and talk about what the songs have taught them.  “They have really taken it and made it their own, writing the songs in their local languages.”

The project is currently running in the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. Due to its success and interest across the South Pacific, Caritas Australia is planning to extend the program’s reach to other countries.

This season we’re better prepared and know how to respond, and in an emergency this can make all the difference.”