Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Island Hopping

The past 3 weeks have been very busy and the next three are going to be the same, if not busier.
After we last blogged, we have started loaning out books in the library and the headmaster’s daughter was the first person to lend it out. For now, only fiction is allowed out of the library until the next peacecorp volunteer comes in December. Gareth has been running sessions in the library for the school. We take so much for granted back in Australia and in other countries. Many of these kids have never been in a library before and were very excited to loan out their first ever library book. One of the pet peeves is that many children don’t even know how to put a book back on a shelf and so would put the book back with the spine facing inwards. Anyway, enough about the library – it has just been a very exciting project to be a part of.

Another event that happened was that Gareth was asked to preach on the 30th. Gareth found it a big task because it was only a few days notice and it was also done in Bislama. The people were quite impressed and thought that it was a very meaningful message. Alicja thought that he did a wonderful job as well.

It is amazing what you can do over here if you are willing to do some volunteer work. Alicja met some volunteers shortly after the parents left at the airport, who were giving some wheelchairs to some people around the place. We visited a boy in Mae (a town about 10-15 mins drive away) and put him in a wheelchair. This was a few weeks ago now. Alicja’s contact details were then passed on to a few volunteers in Port Vila who help children with disabilities. They came up about a week ago and Alicja went with them to Mae to check on the same boy from a few weeks ago. The next day, they went to the hospital to run a workshop. But the real crunch is, they previously thought they had time to get to Southwest Bay to visit two people with disabilities, one of which we measured up for a wheelchair on our last visit (a long amazing story associated with this too). So this week on Friday, we are going back down to South West Bay, much to our delight, to give and fit two people into wheelchairs! It won’t be so much of a sightseeing trip but more like work since it takes a long time to fit people into wheelchairs ... plus they need observing over the next few days after.

Last Friday was World Teacher’s Day and they have a public holiday called ‘Constitution Day’ which aligns with it. Tautu Village was to be the host of 21 schools. It was a good and very long day with a whole program. Not all the schools turned up but the teacher’s all marched with a group of custom dancers at the front to lead the procession. There were quite a few speeches, a provided community lunch and some skits that a lot of the teachers did as well. Alicja and I played flute and piano for a welcome song and Michael Jackson’s ‘We are the World’.

Last weekend we visited Uripiv Island (pronounced Urbeef) and Norsup Island. Saturday we visited Uripiv, compliments of the Uripiv School headmaster, who picked us up in his boat. We had a tour of the island and visited a missionary's house that was being built by a whole lot of volunteers from Australia and the US. We had a swim then had lunch with the headmaster's family, including a taste of Palolo worms - a salt water worm that the locals catch at certain times of the year. Interesting…..
After lunch we crossed the island and walked around the southern end of the island, collecting shells and looking into caves. Sunday we visited Norsup Island with the Presbyterian Church for a service recognising a retiring elder. It was a bigger celebration than we expected. There were many speeches and prayers (unfortunately for us, the service went for about 3.5 hours on a hot day!), with a cake and a huge lunch. After lunch we walk around the island. We had been warned that the centre of the island was filled with custom villages that we shouldn’t enter so we stayed close to the water and enjoyed the view. We arrived back just in time for the boats back to the mainland. On arriving back on the mainland we were getting out of the boat and Alicja went to help a mum and baby out of the boat. Unfortunately, it was quite slippery and she fell over and got a few cuts and bruises but the baby was ok! After getting back to the house, we had a talking to from Ansen. It turns out we shouldn’t have walked around the island unaccompanied as there are custom spirits, even in the coastal areas. They believe we upset Spirits or not, causing my mishap. Spirits or not - we won’t be doing any more solo exploring!

Today is Malampa Day public holiday so we made the most of a day off to go visit the young boy in Mae and do a bit more work with his wheelchair. We added a head rest and made a few adjustments - he was very pleased!
We are coming close to the end of our stay now - there is so much we want to squeeze in the next few weeks. We are both feeling sorry to leave but are also looking forward to seeing everyone again (not to mention a washing machine!)

Gareth preaching

Judy with two babies. The white belongs to one of the volunteers

The volunteers from Port Vila

Dressing up in our uniforms for Teacher's Day

Us and Frima on Uripiv Island

Gareth on Norsup Island

The kids on the boat back from Norsup Island
Today in Mae with Jonathan


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