Tuesday, April 17, 2007

I'm alive and well... with a mobile phone and a library card!!!!

Hi y'all!
I made it here safe and sound and have been flat out with work for the last couple of weeks. Our internet at the office isn't working so I'm in an internet cafe burning up my meagre volunteers allowance to check my e-mails and pop up a post, so instead of writing a real post I'm just going to post this e-mail that I managed to send home. I promise I'll put up a real post soon!

Hello from Vanuatu!

ADDIT: I’ve been trying to send this e-mail for the last couple of days but our internet here has been more temperamental than usual after the IT guy took our server away to upgrade it overnight, didn’t upgrade it and then returned it. While our net connection has PMS at the best of times, this is worse than usual and has delayed a lot of work and e-mails, this one included. But, fingers crossed, this attempt to send will work!

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been here only a week and a half! It feels like I’ve been here much longer now that I’ve settled into my new home and work.

My new place is a 1 bedroom “apartment” in a rent house in the suburb of Freswota. It has a verandah, a small kitchen area complete with bench and cupboard space, a relatively large bedroom also with cupboard space, and… (to cap it all off) a bathroom with a flushing toilet and cold shower (and here comes the best bit)… INSIDE!!!!! Those of you who have heard about the Blacksands house and my exploits pulling buckets of water from the well in order to cook, shower, and even flush the toilet, will somewhat understand and appreciate the significance of this!

Benson went to a lot of trouble to clean up and set up the house for me and has made it very comfortable and homey. Jin, I know you laughed at me when I brought over an inflatable mattress at Christmas time, but I’m so glad I did now! Soooo comfortable!!!! The only problem with the house is that the bedroom is right in the middle of the house and has no window access to outside which makes it very hot. As a result of a couple of hot and restless nights (following many hot and restless days) I trotted into town on my lunch break yesterday and bought an electric pedestal fan for AU$45 and then carted it back up the hill to the office before taking it home and setting it up. It was a great relief last night to lie down in relative coolness.

The weather here has been hitting 30 degrees regularly throughout the last week and a half (in fact it has been hotter now than it was over Christmas) and the humidity has been sitting at what surely must be 300%!!! Mum, you’d hate it right now! My routine has become get up in the morning, shower, eat breakfast, think about sneaking in another shower, get dressed and go to work, spend much of my day reminiscing about how pleasant my cold shower was that morning (even though at the time the shock of the cold water was anything but pleasant) and wishing I was back in the shower, going home, getting in the shower, cooking and eating dinner, thinking about having another shower before bed, and then trying to get to sleep in the oppressive heat. A lot of the expats around town haven’t been feeling too well thanks to the heat and I suspect dehydration has something to do with it so I’ve been taking advantage of the fridge at work and drinking litres and litres of cold water each day. At home we haven’t got a fridge (chilling the water somehow manages to temporarily eliminate the chlorine taste) so the little store nextdoor has been getting a heap of my money on my second daily runs to buy cordial, which masks the chlorine-y taste.

Work is great! Everyone in the office is lovely and very helpful. As expected the job description has once again changed and for the short term (i.e. the next 4 – 6 weeks) I’m helping with the recruitment of some new staff, co-ordinating and writing our 6 monthly report to Ausaid (who give us money), looking out for new office space for us as the current office is too small, and doing a few “bitser” jobs around the place that need doing. In the long term I’ll be working with our new Youth Program Manager (who we are in the process of recruiting) to plan, manage and implement our Ni-Vanuatu youth programs which include the current volunteer and training program as well as establishing a new internship program for Ni-Vanuatu youth who have completed the volunteer program. I still haven’t got a desk of my own yet (not enough space in the office) so I’m spending much of my office time either working on the couch or sneaking into other peoples desks when they’re out of the office.

It’s a very exciting, but also stressful, time for the organisation with a lot of change happening in the next 3 or 4 months. There is going to be quite a turnover of staff with Cheryl (another Australian volunteer) leaving our organisation in June, Jamie (a Canadian volunteer) leaving us mid-May, some Ni-Vanuatu staff leaving and some new ones joining the ranks, and my boss Negaya just announcing her resignation yesterday. She will finish up at the
end of April and we’re not too sure when her replacement will be found and arrive. As previously mentioned we are also looking for new office space to accommodate all us staff and to facilitate a small drop in area for volunteers and past challengers to come and use the computers. I’m going to head out this afternoon with Negaya to check out a house in Freswota that we may move the office to when our funding comes through from Oxfam.

In other news, I went down to Blacksands the other day to see Benson’s brother’s house which got burnt down. Not much house to see really, just a small patch of concrete and a lot of burnt timber. The beautiful avocado tree that grew over their roof has been totally blackened too. It was really quite sad. While there I found Benson’s nephew’s puppy, Wigo, still alive and scavenging in the neighbour’s yards for food. One of her hind legs had been broken by someone who had stoned her. Poor little thing. So I took her home, fed her some leftovers from the night before, and then Ben and I took her out to his brother at Teouma where they will use “kastom” medicine on her leg and nurse her back to health.

All in all it’s been a pretty eventful first week in town and I was stoked to have the Easter long weekend to settle in properly. I will try to send some photo’s when I get a chance. The internet here in the office is temperamental at the best of times. Hopefully though we’ll be getting broadband in the next couple of weeks and our server will be upgraded.

To all the nursing kids who graduated yesterday, I hope everything went well and you all had a great day! I hope you clapped loudly for me when my name was read out as graduating in absentia! I was thinking of you all on that special day… once again, we made it!

Hope everyone is well and that you all had a lovely Easter long weekend! Looking forward to hearing about what’s going on back in Oz!

Sorry about the mammoth e-mail. So much to say and so little time!

If you ever make it to this neck of the woods for a holiday let me know!

Thinking of you all!

Yaeli xoxo

P.S. If anyone is interested in being on our mailing list for our regularly irregular newsletter (it can't work out if it's going out every month or every second month) to see what Youth Challenge Vanuatu is up to let me know and I'll get you added to the mailing list.

I really need to work uot how to post to my blog from my e-mail address...

Sunday, April 01, 2007

36 hours baby... yeah!!!!

In 36 hours I will be sitting on a plane with 90% of my worldly belongings, heading off to start my new life in Vanuatu! How exciting!!! And somewhat freaky!!!

I've moved house before but this is something pretty huge... in fact it's huge on a scale that I've never known before! On one hand I really just want to hurry up and go, but on the other hand I'm worried that I'm going to forget stuff that I need. Not that I can't get replacement stuff over there but it's different when it's your stuff... the only symbol of continuity between the life you've just left and the life you're now entering!

I'm also having serious issues getting my baggage below 40kgs... My airline approved extra baggage takes me up to 30kgs but it still ain't enough. I have been spared having to make a decision on whether or not to take my pair of "crocs" with me, as after 9 months of faithful service they have decided that 36 hours before I get on a plane would be a great time to develop holes in their soles! I practically live in these shoes! I'm kinda distraught that they aren't going to make the trip with me... but glad that it's one less thing to worry about fitting in my bag. I might try to get a new pair at the last minute at the airport though... just might.