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.

At the Celebration – Part 1

(8am) Everyone has been up since 3:30am when the community bell rang (very loudly) to announce today we’d celebrate (and get up mamas and start cooking!). Today is the official opening of a lot of stuff:
- Tongariki Public Road
- Water Project (water pumps were placed down by the water – but in reality it takes a while to reach the pumps and needs 2 men to pump it)
- Renovated Classrooms
- Solar System (for the school and dispensary)
- Football field (I mean soccer for those Americans reading this)
- Kindergarten House
- Fisherman’s Center (which doesn’t function - a business man organized all the small islands around to catch fish and store them in the center’s freezer until a big ship comes around to pay for the fish and then sell them in Vila – good idea but never came true as we don’t have a freezer and there is no ship)
- And the Official handing over of the Tongariki Community Truck!!! (the island hasn’t had a truck for almost 30 years the last one was given during “colonial time” or when the British and French were in charge)

Most of these projects have long been completed but no government officials have come to witness its opening so today 30 delegates should arrive any minute to take part in the celebration of the island’s many blessings. The truck is currently outside my hut blaring string band music (Vanuatu style island music) and the kids are hooting, yelling and dancing. Some of the kids (and adults) have never even seen a truck in real life only in movies so its quite a novelty. I’m so glad that they have a truck to aid in development of the island because before everything had to be carried up the hill on their backs – cement bricks, tin roofing, water tanks, supplies – and so you can understand how projects could take such a long time to finish. The projects are from an assortment of donators such as AusAID, SOPAC, Vanuatu government and the truck is a gift from the Green Federation Political Party.