Saturday, March 14, 2015

Support Vanuatu as they recover from Cyclone Pam

Four years ago I said "tata" to Vanuatu and more specifically to Tongariki the small island that I called my home for two years. I said goodbye but the family, friendships and memories are always in my heart.
As you may have seen on the news, Vanuatu was hit hard by cyclone Pam which has caused unknown amount of damage. 

Radio NZ

DailyMail UK 

Communication is still down in Vanuatu so no one has heard word about Tongariki or how bad it really is on the ground, but the pictures are horrible. They are going to need our prayers and support as they begin to recover.

The peace corps volunteers there were evacuated to Australia. But I've been able to track other friends through Facebook

For those who are on Facebook I encourage you to share the news story as many people may not know about it or to give your friends a personal connection to Vanuatu so they too can keep them in their prayers and help support.
Something along the lines of:

My thoughts are with those in Vanuatu as they begin to recover from this catastrophic cyclone. (DailyMail UK [friend/niece/cousin/sister/daughter] @nikibannister lived there for 2 years with the Peace Corps and the people of Vanuatu became a second family to her. Please help support in any way you can! 

Or change your Facebook profile picture to:

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Finally update her blog

Many apologies for not keeping my blog up to date but with the few times I go into Port Vila I find myself with a massive to do list and my blog ends up last. So I have entries now starting from

May 16th to Sept 26th

Please check them out since lots has happened:
- My Dad’s visit to Vanuatu (and we both got tattoos)
- A truck arrived to Tongariki
- My project wrapped up
- My family came to Vanuatu
- My cat had kittens

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Become a Grandma

My cat, Leno, who a month ago I thought was just getting fat fat was indeed preggos. And today she delivered 3 adorable kittens (2 girls and 1 boy). I had never seen kittens born before an was a lil nervous anticipating the day – would she shriek in pain or would in be messy and isn’t she too small to pop ‘em out???

But on the day she just meowed at me to tell me to get ready – so I got out a box and a towel to put together a makeshift delivery room. And after an hour or so of panting and huffing they all came out and Leno kept the place clean and in order.

The kittens eyes haven’t opened and they barely can walk. They are just so cute and tiny – they fit in my palm.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Spend Some Time on Buninga and Makira Islands

Through some US Govt. funding 3 other PC volunteers (Amy, Chris & Jared) and myself set off to visit two nearby island to hold a day long HIV/AIDS workshop in the communities.

Buninga Is. Is just next door to Tongariki – about a 20 minute boat ride over – and is even smaller than Tongariki in size and population (about 100 people total). The island has an Aid Post which can distribute over-the-counter drugs and dress wounds, but anything more serious must go either to Tongoa or Port Vila. The Aid Post is run by a great village health worker named Sepa Wilson who has a lot of experience and is hoping that one day he will have a PC volunteer to help him. The talk was successfully with a big turnout of young men and women. We stayed over 2 nights and enjoyed chatting with the locals and they too seemed very intrigued by us Westerners. Sometimes it feels like we are some kind of zoo animal.

Then the gang of us went back to my home on Tongariki for the weekend. A lot of the time was spent watching Glee on my portable dvd player and reminiscing about life back home in the states. Its good to every once in awhile hang out and vent to other volunteers.

After recharging over a lazy weekend we set off on a 2 hour boat ride to Makira Is. It is another small island with a lil over 100 people. Here we were greeted by Fanee the Village Health Worker in charge of the Aid Post. He is expecting his first PC vol to arrive in November this year and the community is anxiously waiting. This new PC vol is lucky as their house is on the white sandy beach with views of the ocean (rough life). But they will be like me the only volunteer on the island so it won’t necessarily be easy for them. Once we arrived we were given an unexpected request of holding a hygiene talk that night – so we threw something together. The second day we held the HIV/AIDS workshop and my host papa from Tongariki (who drove us over in the boat and helped out with the workshop) was able to field a lot of questions and further explain certain things which was a big help to us. One particular question we got was “why doesn’t the government test everyone and then inform the villages: who has HIV and does not?” – I was a lil horrified by the thought of tattoos branding people with HIV/AIDS. But my host papa took the lead and basically went into a civic class describing the rights of people and government control. And then we explained really it just comes down to the individual to get tested and protect themselves.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Celebrate the “Give Light” Project

The health program I’d been working on the past 4 months finally wrapped up today. We had a big celebration in honor of everyone’s hard work. As you know from my previous blog entries the families participated in workshops and are trying to make their futures healthier. My friends and family back home raised enough money and then some to reward each family’s efforts with a solar lantern. And some of my family were present at the celebration to personally shake hands and distribute the lights on behalf of the donors. It was truly a special occasion for everyone and a step to a brighter and healthier future for Tongariki.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Welcome her Brothers to Tongariki

Kevin and Bryan finally made it to Tongoa after a 4 hour delay (go figure). It has been 10 months since I have seen them and so the first hug was a lil emotional for me. The boat ride over wasn’t too bad and they lucked out as the truck was waiting for us on the shore of Tongariki (both my mom and dad had to hike up).

Once in Erata Village (my hometown now), all the kids were curious to see my brothers and they would try to sneak a peak through the door or hide around the trees. The older boys and men though were so excited to hand out with them that they came over to try to steal them away to get a tour or drink kava. I think they are more popular then me. That night they both tried kava for the first time and we even tried to chew a piece of the kava root like the locals but it tastes horrible and I could only bear it for a minute before I spit my out. *Remember kava on Tongariki is made my chewing the roots and then spiting them into a bowl where water is added and then sieved through a cloth to make the drink.*
The next day the boys were hard at work building me a chicken coup that my dad (David) designed and sent from the states. The afternoon though was spent celebrating the health program that recently completed and distributing the solar lanterns.

On Friday, the boys had to say their goodbyes to Tongariki. As we left on the boat toward Tongoa dolphins swam near and bats flew in the air (quite the send off).

Bry and Terelyn

Saturday, July 3, 2010

At the Celebration (Part 2)

(1pm) In classic Vanuatu fashion we started the ceremony about 4 hours late. So from 1pm till close to 6pm we listened to speeches by chiefs, pastors and government officials. There were several ribbons cut and lots of pictures taken. Many songs later we all relaxed for a late lunch/early dinner around 4:30pm. The 5 villages pulled enough money to buy a cow and sow we had beef stew and an assortment of lap lap. For entertainment the men and women performed custom dances – the costumes and performances were amazing. It was such a treat to watch and I think its great that they are keeping their traditions alive.

Although it was a very long day I was so glad to be a part of the celebration.