Vila Times

One of the men behind the brain of Melsisi Catholic Mission

One of the men behind the brain of Melsisi Catholic Mission
One of the men behind the brain of Melsisi Catholic Mission
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He is one of the rare figures which Melsisi Catholic Mission in Central Pentecost is still keeping as many have left this world. He is more than 100 years old and is regarded as the only surviving former longest teacher who has been the first to open up the brain of hundreds of ‘pikininis’ from Melsisi with ABCD…
Clément Wai from Lalbetaes Village was a young man when Melsisi Catholic Mission sent him to Montmartre School on Efate to be trained as teacher. It was at the end of 50s.
In early 60s, he started his career in teaching. Posted back to his home island, he become the teacher of Class One from Day 1 to his retirement at the end of his career some thirty years ago.
Monsieur Clément was for almost thirty years the man who was the first to receive the children from villages to Melsisi Primary School. His classroom was located at Linonvat in a three classroom building which is still standing strong today. This building lasts more than fifty years. It is one being built after the church house, the biggest one in the country, being erected in 1959.
On that year, Clément was a young man. He had witnessed the hard work of the whole community of Melsisi in the construction of the biggest church house in the New Hebrides with the then priest in charge of this Catholic Mission, Paul Monnier from France.
Many priests have come after Father Paul Monnier to look after one of the biggest Catholic Parishes in the New Hebrides. And Monsieur Clément used to work under their authority.
Many of his students are in their seventieth today. They still remember that time when this faithful teacher had to give his full heart to make them become good citizen. All kind of teaching he gave to his students. When he become angry in the classroom, he used a long stick he called “Buletap” (tap to mean taper in French which means to whip and Bule as village name on Pentecost) to frighten his students. Sometimes he used his Buletap to threaten his students and everyone had to hide under the desks in the classroom.
Monsieur Clément was the boss and the chief of Linonvat. Every child who had to start his or her education in his class had to know he was a kind of man who assumed his profession with dignity and sometimes used his own way to teach depending of his or her character. Like other teachers on his time, he imposed strong disciplines even when this was a lack of punctuality.
Many of his former students, girls and boys, remembered being punished by him when they come late to school. Monsieur Clément had to do something to avoid this kind of attitude. He had to impose a punishment, sometimes a strong one, for his students to learn something from it. This was how he taught them respect and discipline.
This kind of teaching always led his students to success. When the school year ended, he always bought something to give as ‘Christmas gifts’ to his best students, a sign of acknowledgement and encouragement. Even when he married Bernadette Bibi from Ilamre Village and become father, he always thought about his best students before giving ‘Christmas gifts’ to his own children, five daughters and a son.
Today with his children, more than ten grandchildren and more than ten great grandchildren, Monsieur Clément is regarded as one of the best ‘Man Melsisi’ who had given the best of his life. His legacy will live on forever.
Born in an important family as his grandfather was a high chief of Vanmelang who welcomed in the shores of Farabibi the first catholic missionary to Central Pentecost, Clément has been always a man of principle and a strong believer who has always kept his village in peace and harmony alongside his elder brothers, Alphonse the builder who was behind the repair works being undertaken on the church house at Melsisi after being damaged by earthquake in 1999, and Alusio the chief who died two years ago.
Their only sister is the mother of the Prime Minister, Charlot Salwai.

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