Friday, June 22, 2012

What are we actually doing in Vanuatu? What is the story?

So how did this idea of going to Vanuatu actually come about? What is the whole idea about going? How did we organise it? Who did we organise it with? How did such an opportunity come about? If you want to know the answers to any of these questions - read on.

Before we go any further, we will have to give you some background information. Our church (Hervey Bay Uniting Church) wanted to form a partnership with a church overseas. The minister Brian, who had a connection to Vanuatu, went over there and the Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu suggested he go to a little village called Tautu on the island of Malekula (one of the most northern islands of Vanuatu). He met with the village and talked to the minister about coming over to Hervey Bay and doing some study in Sydney for a few days.

Pastor Colen in Vanuatu
So about a year and a bit ago, we had a visit from  Pastor Collen, the minister from Tautu Village (pictured left). He came and stayed at my (Gareth's) house for a few days and spent some other time with a few other people from our Hervey Bay Uniting Church. He suggested the idea of coming over to Vanuatu to visit and strengthen our relationship between the two churches. I started thinking about this idea and considering it and it was always at the back of my mind.

Daniel Nato and I at home in Hervey Bay
A little bit more down the track in August 2011, we heard of someone else coming from the village who was also coming to do some study at the college in Sydney. . He was an elder in the same church as Pastor Collen. His name was Daniel Nato (pictured right). Alicja just happened to be in town on holiday and was able to meet Daniel while he was here. We then also talked about the idea of coming over to Vanuatu to visit as part of a church group.

Fast forward six months to about January this year and Alicja and I were seriously considering visiting over in Vanuatu and then had an idea of volunteering in their school. Alicja being an Occupational Therapist and me being a teacher, our skills could easily be used. I was thinking about teaching English in the primary school and Alicja working in the kindergarten with the younger children. It was then we called them up and asked them if we could come over in July and see if this was possible and they said they would talk to their school committee. After waiting a couple of weeks and a few delayed emails, we called them up again and they said that we could come over with me teaching and Alicja in the kindergarten.

So there you have it. What we know about the village so far is that there are around 200 or so people that live in the village. Internet is going to be an every now and again situation with us having to travel 4kms on the back of a 4WD for a couple of $'s which equates to about 200 Vanuatu Vatu (their currency). At the moment we are thinking that every 2 to 3 weeks we will make this trip and use some of the internet in this village (Lakatoro) and buy any essentials that we might need. The language situation is such: the locals speak an English dialect called Bislama which is the pidgin English of Vanuatu and some surrounding islands. That will be enough writing, now for some pictures. We haven't actually been there yet, but these are from our minister.

The guest house where we are staying - (Colen's daughter at the bottom)

A local's home

The sea in the surrounding area

Some more houses

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