|Sabene in Lorevuilko where Mothers' Union runs literacy classes.|
In early February 2013, ABM’s Pacific Programs Officer Sabene Gomes embarked on her first trip to Vanuatu to meet with our Partner, the Anglican Church of Melanesia (ACOM) and to monitor our projects. ABM currently funds the Water and Sanitation project and the Literacy project in Vanuatu.
(Sabene was actually there during the most recent emergency crisis when an 8.0 magnitude earthquake caused a tsunami in the Solomon Islands on the 6th February. An alert was issued but luckily Vanuatu was not affected. What a way to start a new position!!)
During her visit, Sabene met with staff at ACOM’s office in Luganville on the island of Espiritu Santo. She commented that the CPP (Church Partnership Program) Coordinator, Joses Togese, is very capable and well respected within the communities in which they work. He has established a good relationship with key community members such as parish priests and school principals who seem very comfortable in approaching Joses with their concerns and issues.
ABM has been working with ACOM in implementing water and sanitation systems in the Dioceses of Vanuatu and New Caledonia, and Banks and Torres. Sabene visited some of the water projects and was happy to see that many people were using the water tanks funded by ABM.
“While I was at one of the sites, I actually saw some people coming up and using the water tank which was a really good thing to see. We also got reports from the majority of the priests in that area of people bringing empty bottles to fill them up and then using them at home.”
“I really think it’s benefiting the community and even the surrounding communities where the tanks are, so that was very impressive”, she said.
|A VIP toilet in Vanuatu.|
She reported that new VIP (Ventilation Improved Pit) toilets are being installed in some of the targeted communities. These systems came out of a government initiative to improve and create public awareness about safe sanitation practices. At one of the project sites, VIP toilets are being used strictly for demonstration purposes so that people, especially children, can be educated about using the toilets and safe clean water practices as well such as washing their hands.
From her visit to the project sites, Sabene could see that in some locations, the local people have adapted their own systems and methods of doing things, so it is important that ABM is supportive of them and of the government’s involvement in the projects.
Sabene also caught up with Ethel George and Edith Willie from the Mothers’ Union (MU) who work with ACOM on the Literacy Program in Vanuatu. The program relies on volunteers to be trained as teachers who can then go out and work within their communities.
They are hoping for a motivational skills workshop to assist them in ways to communicate with the public about the importance of voluntary services, and to get more people involved in teaching literacy. She is hoping to organise some workshops on capacity building in the future for the literacy teachers as well as MU workers.
“Things are looking good, hopefully they’ll even be maintained in the future and we can continue to roll out our programs.”
“Overall I really enjoyed my experience there and I was really happy with the way things were working with the VCPP program. We’re trying to find ways to move forward and maintain our program for developing some sustainability.”