We went to Ebeye yesterday with a woman from our church who has done a lot ministry there. Kim and the kids came with me, they had been before but it was nice to have them along and they got a chance to meet some new people.
Ebeye is one of the islands on our atoll which is where where the Marshallese people who work on Kwaj live. It takes about 25 minutes by boat to get there from here.
It is said to be one of the most densely populated places on Earth. There are roughly 12,000 people living on an island that is 1/2 mile by 1/2 mile. There are no high rises there, just simple plywood structures with some buildings made from concrete. We were told that over 50% of the island residents are under age 18 and most people are unemployed.
We visited a handful of the private Christian schools. The public schools are full and so there are private schools to help reach out to the children. It costs money to run a school and with so many people unemployed the schools need to be subsidized in order to operate. Some of the Christian schools have self funded missionaries who come from the US to serve as teachers for a year or two. There are a few churches in the US who help these schools as well as some of the Christan organizations on Kwaj help. It was fun touring the schools and meeting some of the kids. They all wear uniforms from the school they attend and have very simple classrooms.
We visited one school at recess and their playground is a simple dirt area. They made hopscotch lines and used pieces of coral instead of rocks. The teachers also organized running races and some of the boys played with the one football. It is different than in the US. I asked the vice principal of one of the schools we visited what the cost for tuition was and he said $40.00 a month, yet there are many who can't afford that monthly cost.
It is always eye opening to visit with people who live a very different lifestyle than the one you do. Ebeye is not a materially rich part of the word and it pulls on the compassionate part of one's soul to see so many children in need.