Friday, May 04, 2007

Ding dong! Vanuatu calling!!

Well my first month here has ended and I’m into my second and I’m still alive, which is quite a big thing really considering the stress of the last month with 80% of our staff leaving, a visit from the big boss from Australia (which didn’t help us much I don’t think), and the huge amount of work that my colleague Joel and I are facing until the new Program Director arrives and our new staff begin. I am fast learning that working here is like trying to nail jelly to the wall… It would be a lot easier with support in the right places to stop bits falling down. However, as frustrating as it can be, the people that I get to work with make it all worthwhile!

In my work I am privileged to be able to work on a regularly irregular basis with Irene Malachi, an amazing lady who is one of only a handful of Ni-Vanuatu people who have been diagnosed and are living with HIV/AIDS. Irene now lectures about AIDS awareness for Youth Challenge at our Youth Skills Summits on outer islands and does a lot of other work for other organisations that are trying to raise awareness of AIDS.

My colleague Joel is another fine reason to keep turning up to work everyday. He’s a lovely guy from Erakor Island (the island opposite Le Lagon, for those in the know), and is always full of smiles, jokes and stories to get us through the day. He is a pleasure to work with and I can’t think what this last week (which has been pretty full on) would have been like without him.

In other news, Benson’s sister-in-law gave birth on Saturday to a beautiful little girl! We went around to her house on Tuesday, which was a public holiday, and met Fredalynn, who is absolutely beautiful. Fredalynn is the second of my friend’s babies to be borth this month. The day after I arrived here, my friend gave birth to her little girl, Lovelyn, nearly a month prematurely. Lovelyn weighed 1.7 kilos at birth and was kept in the premmie baby ward at the hospital until she reached 2 kilos. Apparently nearly 250 babies were born at Port Vila Central hospital in the month of April! They have been so busy that they haven’t been able to keep mum’s for more than 24 hours after birth unless there’s been a problem.

Fredalynn with her big brother and sister.

Last week we attended the Anzac Day Dawn service here in Vila followed by a tasty hot breakfast put on at the local yachting club (there's no RSL and the Anchor Inn had to suffice). I had a hard time trying to explain Anzac Day to Benson and justifying getting up at 5am to get to the service on time, but I think he got it in the end.

Sunset from our verandah.

The last month has been spent visiting friends and “family”, meeting other volunteers around town, working in our “garden”, and working full stop. Each Sunday Benson and I head out to Teouma to see his brothers who are all living there since the Blacksands riots, and to plant new things in our “garden”, which is more like a small farm really. So far we have planted more than 150 island cabbage plants, a heap of corn and spring onions, 40 taro plants (not my choice as I hate taro), and 70 chinese cabbage plants. This weekend we’re going to try and plant some garlic and some watermelon to add to the variety. Once everything is growing properly the garden is going to make things a bit cheaper for us as we won’t have to keep buying certain things at the market.

The weather here is still hot as anything although we have had a few evenings where Benson and others have worn their cold shirts (i.e. sweaters, jackets and jumpers). Mind you, these nights have been few and far between, and most nights I am still jacking up our electricity bill by running the fan full blast.

I haven’t been too home sick, I’m sure you’re pleased to hear. Mostly I wish you all were here rather than me being back in Sydney. However, I am missing the Thai restaurant in Lindfield. At this moment I would give my right arm for a chicken pad thai, some tofu and veggies in oyster sauce and some prawn crackers.

Hope you are all safe and well! Looking forward to hearing how things are going back in Oz!

Wish you were here!

Poor little Wigo, as mentioned in the last post.


At 2:53 pm, Blogger Carmi said...

Hi Yaeli. Thank you for giving us a glimpse into your amazing new life. You're right: we wish we were there with you, too.

I'll be in Shanghai, China this Monday, so I'll at least be closer to you in spirit!

The pictures are a delight. I swear the sky looks like it was painted by an artist. Incredible!

Dropped by from Michele's tonight, but I'll be back to see everyone else's sharings, too. Be well, my friend.

At 3:10 pm, Blogger kenju said...

Michele sent me too, Yaeli, although not officially. It seems that you are officially settled into your new life. I wish you luck and love and many beautiful sunsets like the one you showed above. It is truly gorgeous!

At 4:03 pm, Blogger Mr. Althouse said...

Hi Yaeli! So glad to hear from you. I'll have to come back and catch up later...


Michele sent me this time.

At 2:35 am, Blogger utenzi said...

Over a month already, Yaeli. It sounds like you're doing fine. I'm quite happy to hear that since your move there so soon after the riots was worrisome!

Good luck with your garden. I've never had Tarot but I've seen starch from it sold in stores.

At 9:30 am, Blogger PI said...

New babies,beautiful sunsets, good work matea- what more could a girl ask? Oh yes and Benson!
Be happy!
Michele says hi!

At 10:31 am, Blogger Bob-kat said...

That photo from your veranda is fabulous!

The people you work with sound amazing. It sounds like quite an adventure and I am glad you have settled into your new life.

Michele sent me to say hi.

At 1:37 pm, Blogger utenzi said...

Michele sent me over this time, Yaeli.

I hope Wigo recovers the full use of the leg. It seems wicked that someone would intentionally do that. But I guess given the backdrop of the riots, throwing a stone at a dog isn't surprising. Just more violence.

At 3:21 pm, Blogger OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

That picture of the the Sun doing it's thing...It Is BEAUTIFUL! Truly! So you have been there a month...Life sounds quite different there...I wish you and Benson a Great Great life together, my dear...And look forward to reading more about your life there.

At 5:39 pm, Blogger Melody said...

Glad to hear you are settling in well. And man, what a population boom!!!

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