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.