The graduates with Sr. Elma, SSJ, Bishop Rochus Tatamai, MSC, DD and Sr. Monica, SSJ

"Lord, my heart is full of Joy!  I feel like I am above the heavens for you have blest me with a skill! Thank you!"

On June 11, 2015, after the 6:30 mass at the Mary Help of Christians Shrine, Steven Aisi (driver), Monica, Elma and Henrietta, LJ, left for Bereina to complete the skills training program of the Inauaia Group.

As usual, we passed by the house of Camillus Aina’au, Susan’s father to greet the family, took Terence, Susan’s sister, who assisted us during the training.  Terence attended our skills Training in Basic Sewing at Korobosea. She did not undergo Basic Cooking Course but her presence and assistance is needed during the training.  After a short rest, we immediately went to the Parish to start our Training Course. We planned to teach for 2 days only and the last day of which will be for the graduation.
Inauaia Nurses' Staff  House where the SSJ sisters stay in Bereina

Since Thursday is the market day at Inauaia, the participants did not come early. They went to the market to sell and do their purchasing.  Monica and Henrietta went to our training area to prepare the ingredients for our first recipe on that day: fish with vinegar. 
Participants coming from their villages

While waiting for the fish to be ready, the participants started cleaning and slicing the tapioca(cassava) for the other recipe which is  tapioca pie with minced beef. Then, Monica taught them how to cook fish with vinegar and ginger.  After the fish was cooked, they prepared the crust for the tapioca pie while the tapioca was being cooked and to be sliced after.

For lunch, we had the cooked fish and rice. There were few fish but we managed to have lunch with a small share of fish with plenty rice. The fish was very delicious. 

Then Elma taught them the pie crust and the tapioca pie filling. Others were cooking the filling while others were molding the crust.  They enjoyed wrapping the filling but we only cooked what is to be eaten that day. We had to prepare for the next, which is crab relleno. They learned and enjoyed removing the meat of the crab. This will be cooked the following day.

The next day, June 12, we cooked crab relleno, meat balls, puto, fried rice, chicken adobo and steamed tapioca.  We had crab relleno, meat balls and fried rice for lunch.  The steamed tapioca, adobo and puto were reserved for the graduation.

After we finished all the cooking, we had evaluation where they expressed their gratefulness for the opportunity to attend the training, the importance of doing the cooking at home with their hidden ingredients of peace, joy and love kept in everyone’s heart.  They also shared that the skills training facilitated a breakthrough in the Mekeo culture that does not allow men to cook and to work with women.
Breakthrough: Men cooking and working with women

On the 13th of June, Bishop Rochus Tatamai, MSC, DD, came to preside in the Eucharistic Celebration being a significant day for all the participants.  This was the first graduation of our Skills Training in Bereina Diocese. Bishop gave a very good homily, expressing his gratitude to the SSJs and to all the cooking participants and the cooking trainers. 
The graduates doing the Processional Dance

The graduates listening to the homily of the Bishop

The Bishop giving communion to the graduates

After the mass was the Graduation Ceremony. Erlinda Elma presented to the Bishop the graduates of Basic Cooking/Baking and they were confirmed by the Bishop. Distribution of the certificates to the participants followed. 
Distribution of certificates of graduation

After which, the graduates were invited to share their experiences.  One of the male participants said: “My wife prepares our food every day; that is, cooked banana with coconut cream with no variation.   But now we can cook other nutritious recipes.  The men really expressed their joy for receiving certificates and one expressed,” I finished Grade Ten (10) but I never received any certificate but now my joy is above the heavens because I got my certificate”.
A graduate sharing her experiences

Another graduate sharing his experiences

Some men who did not join the training also came up the front to tell everyone that they cook and they are also wishing to have the opportunity to avail of the training.  They expressed their gratitude to the Bishop, who in turn, was very touched by the sharing of the people to the point of crying as he responded, “Even if I have the desire to provide you with skills but if there are no people to implement it, my desire remains just a plan in the mind but not realized. So let us thank the SSJ Sisters who even without a convent had already come to make themselves present and available to teach you skills in cooking.” 

He also encouraged them to pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life and to be generous to offer their children to God when their children express to them their desire to become missionaries. After the sharing of experiences, the Bishop blessed the graduates and the whole assembly. 
The Bishop blessing the graduates and the whole assembly

A simple lunch was served at the training area and everybody enjoyed it.

The first graduation at Inauaia had awakened in the village and in the other villages the desire to discover their God-given skills and to be productive Christians for the Church and the society.  


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