Congratulations to Peter Kamsel who has won a Vanuatu government scholarship to study medicine in Fiji. Peter was one of the first students from Sangalai School in the Maskelyne Islands to receive a secondary school fee subsidy from the Butterfly Trust. Since 2012, the Trust paid a third of all Peter’s school fees from Year 9 to Year 13. Well done Peter!
One of our regular medical volunteers, physician Dr Michael Kahan, recently wrote an article for NZ Doctor. If you’re a doctor considering volunteering overseas, we warmly recommend reading this article. To view the article click here.
Football is a popular game throughout Vanuatu. In the Maskelynes, men risk injury to their ankles every time they kick a ball on the grassy sports field at Sangalai Centre School. Looking deceptively even, this pitch is no lawn. It is ridden with crab holes and players literally have to dodge the occasional chickens crossing their path. Friendly matches are played on dirt tracks adjoining villages using makeshift goal posts constructed from tree branches. Proper footwear and balls are scarce. Any gifts of these items have been well received in the past and shared amongst the various villages.
The Trust is therefore delighted to announce its partnership with the Auckland City Football Club (ACFC) on the occasion of the club team’s Super City derby 3-1 win against Waitakere United on Saturday 4 February 2012. This followed a successful and colourful fundraising effort at ACFC grounds, raising $920 from raffle ticket sales. ACFC then generously made a further contribution to cap the day’s takings to $1000. To top it off, the club has also agreed to organise donations of playing kits, training gear and equipment on behalf of communities in Vanuatu.
Butterfly Trust applauds the tremendous effort and enthusiasm displayed by all members of ACFC who have so generously created a platform for further projects and opportunities to benefit communities in rural Vanuatu. We are grateful to the Chairman and management team at ACFC, organisers of the raffle prizes as well as everyone involved with media and communications. We also thank our volunteer ‘butterflies’ who flitted amongst the crowd selling raffle tickets and promoting the work of the Trust with much grace and humour.
As a result of publicity generated following this week’s media release, the Vanuatu Football Federation (VFF) has expressed its ‘thanks’ to both organisations. Link to the Vanuatu Football Federation’s website.
Lambert Maltock, President of VFF says, “On behalf of Vanuatu Football Federation and the football of our humble nation, we wish to entend to both organisations and those directly responsible for this help, our most sincere and utmost gratitude. Indeed, such a kind act of generous assistance was unexpected and we are truly grateful for this thoughtfulness. I am sure those intended beneficiaries would be truly happy to receive this help.”
The same report can also be viewed at the website of The Vanuatu Daily Post, the country’s daily newspaper. Link to the Vanuatu Daily Post website.
The Auckland City team has played against several Vanuatu teams, namely Tafea, Port Vila Sharks and Amicale in the Oceania League since 2007. The upcoming match between Auckland City and Amicale takes place at the PVL Stadium in Port Vila on Saturday 31 March.
Photographs taken at the Auckland City Football Club Raffle Ticket Fundraiser on 4 February 2012, 47 Kiwitea Street, Sandringham, Auckland, New Zealand. Credit to Shane Wenzlick and Marc Peretic-Wilson.
Maskelynes’ photographs taken by the Butterfly Trust in July 2011.
With a population of 260,000, 32 doctors* and a shortage of nurses, access to primary healthcare remains a formidable challenge for the majority of ni-Vans living in the outlying areas of Vanuatu. Other hurdles slowing down access to quality primary healthcare are the cost of training, the lack of proper training facilities and personnel, and the problem of transport across 83 different islands, many of which are geographically isolated from the urban centres.
The majority of Vanuatu’s doctors are permanently based at 2 regional referral hospitals and 3 provincial hospitals. This, combined with the shortage of nurses, dentists and eye-care specialists, means that a substantial portion of primary health care delivery to remote areas is still being catered for by overseas medical personnel working as volunteers. Some groups return on a regular basis, either focusing on a single catchment area or rotating through different locations on subsequent visits. Others provide financial support in the form of overseas courses and placement programmes in a bid to help selected ni-Van health workers improve their skills. With a broad range of health aid currently being driven by the government’s development partners, local and overseas NGOs and churches, as well as individual volunteers, we want to ensure that our involvement at grassroots level will build on what has already been established.
We have been fortunate to have had a number of highly qualified and motivated doctors and nurses, dentists and dental therapists, work with us over the years. Some return each year and return to clinics and hospitals where they have forged relationships with the local communities. This is particularly so at Lamap and the offshore islands of southeast Malekula, and at Norsup Hospital in north Malekula. Our medical personnel have engaged in both clinical work and training and mentoring of local health practitioners.
As a result of the feedback we have received from all quarters, including our overseas practitioners, local practitioners and local communities, we have determined we can be most effective by increasing local community health knowledge. We are therefore concentrating on assisting local health educators become more proficient at teaching local communities about basic public health awareness eg. washing hands, healthy nutrition, and basic wound care.
*2010 figure as sourced from Vanuatu’s Annual Development Report
Butterfly Trust collaborates with Vanuatu Institute of Technology
With its main campus in the capital, Port Vila and 2 smaller provincial training centres, the Vanuatu Institute of Technology (“VIT”) is Vanuatu’s largest provider of formal technical and vocational training. It runs a variety of programmes in various trades, business, tourism, hospitality and computing. The Butterfly Trust was particularly interested in VIT’s rural training scheme whereby qualified instructors run intensive courses in a village environment. Designed especially for men and women with none or little formal qualifications, short courses can be customised to suit the technical level of the group taking part. As a VNTC (Vanuatu National Training Council) accredited organisation, where minimum standards are attained following course completion, individuals receive certificates recognised within the local industry.
The Butterfly Trust hopes to keep facilitating the acquisition of trade and vocational skills as an alternative form of continuing education for adults with little formal qualifications, to promote self reliance and to help generate income opportunities for individuals in the Maskelynes.
Before micro industries such as a coconut oil mill can be set up and run independently by the community, we believe that more groundwork is necessary to assist in the procurement of certain basic skills and knowledge. This is to ensure eventual success and sustainability of any project undertaken.
In September this year, the Butterfly Trust discussed future partnership with VIT Principal Kalbeo Kalpat, Deputy Academic Jack Graham and Course Co-ordinator Charley Manai. While there is plenty of organisation yet to be accomplished in co-ordinating the first course, likely to be a Vocational Foundation Certificate in electrical principles and workshop practices, the seed has nevertheless been planted.
Also on the agenda was the issue of providing assistance and further training to VIT’s instructors in the Port Vila campus. For this, the Butterfly Trust will be seeking the assistance of technical training institutes or experienced builders, woodworkers and electrical engineers from New Zealand interested in ‘Training the Trainers.
RTC students to benefit from coconut oil generator
The Butterfly Trust has now made the decision to donate the Listeroid generator, purchased in 2009 to run a coconut oil mill, to the Rural Training Centre (“RTC”) in the village of Pellongk. It came to the point where the logistical difficulties involved with setting up a coconut oil factory became quite major in the current state of play. Over the past 2 years, the Butterfly Trust has had numerous discussions with the promoter of the project, village chiefs and organisations in Vanuatu including World Vision and Volcanic Earth, in an effort to reach a workable solution. We have come to the understanding that, while there is still a potential for the industry to be developed in the Maskelynes, the chances of a functioning mill coming to fruition in the immediate future are rather slim.
Meanwhile, the Listeroid has been put to good use by the community and after undergoing minor repairs, has now been donated to the RTC for training purposes. The RTC, an accredited training institution, runs courses in carpentry, building construction and hospitality. RTC Director Alick Masing agreed that having the use of an additional source of power to run electrical tools for class demonstrations and practice would be of immense practical help to tutors and students. In addition, as the RTC is situated in Pellongk, the wider village community will benefit when extra lighting is required for community events and functions.
It was a matter of finding an interim solution that would provide the greatest benefit to all. The concept of the coconut oil mill has not been abandoned, just placed on hold as these matters can take time.
Despite having spent consecutive 12-hour days repairing generators from all over the Maskelynes, American sailor Brian Basura and his wife Claudia Richardson from SY “Skylight” did not hesitate when the Butterfly Trust approached them out of the blue with a request to run a course on generators and solar power.
On 26 and 27 July 2011, up to 15 men (and the occasional woman) from all over the Maskelynes showed up at the Uliveo Workshop in Peskarus village to attend an intensive workshop on the theory and practical skills involved in maintaining diesel generators and solar power equipment.
Brian deftly and succinctly explained the rudimentaries via blackboard diagrams as the men listened attentively and took notes. According to Brian, he was combining concepts usually taught at primary, secondary and tertiary level physics and engineering at various points during the course. “The men did very well and asked pertinent questions, which demonstrated a basic level of understanding.”
The Uliveo Workshop was a flurry of chatter and activity as tools and engine parts were scrutinised and passed round. There were field trips to diagnose the state of solar panels and batteries at the community hall at Lutes village.
Attendee Tom Nombong said at the conclusion of the workshop that he hoped there would be more courses such as this in the future, and added “..but they must be longer.”
We were very pleased to learn that in the weeks immediately following this workshop, a number of the men were busy fixing generators in the villages including one belonging to the Sangalai School.
The Butterfly Trust is very grateful to both Brian and Claudia for coming on board at such short notice.
Avock is one of the 3 main islands making up the Maskelynes group, home to approximately 200 people. The majority of children from this island attend Namaru Primary School until Year 6. Although the school is attached to Avock, it can be reached by foot only at low tide. To get to school, children traverse coral and mudflats, cleaning up before attending class. At high tide, local transport involves paddling the ‘kanu’, local dugout canoes. The journey can be difficult during the rainy season or when the seas are rough.
Despite limited funds, the school committee is dedicated to improving facilities one at a time. It has organised repairs to a number of leaky classrooms out of the annual school budget. After a 5-year wait, the school finally received a water tank. Next on the list was lighting for 4 of the 6 classrooms and the administrative office. This has now been provided by the Butterfly Trust. With the solar power supplemented occasionally by a generator, a photocopier and printer are also in use. This has markedly improved the ability of the school to function effectively and improve the education of its pupils.
Click to view a video clip of the children from Namaru School.
The Butterfly Trust has decided to go ahead with facilitating the establishment of a new library in the Maskelynes. The main impetus for this project is to help improve the literacy standards of the community. Poor literacy standards are clearly a concern across all age groups. Mr Benson Tangou, the head teacher of Sangalai Centre School cited an urgent need for more literacy training for his teaching staff as well as an improved library with a trained librarian where students can have access to a quiet reading space and to carry out research activities. He stressed the need for reading programmes as a way of teaching students the value of reading for pleasure.
In Vanuatu, standardised tests of achievement in literacy and numeracy are carried out nationally every 2 years at the end of Years 4 and 6. Figures from the 2010 Annual Development Report indicate that only 17% of Year 4 (9 year old) boys and 33% of girls could read and write satisfactorily. The figures for Year 6 girls was 46% and 29% in English and French schools respectively.
Although the planned site of the new library building will be on school land, the school committee board, paramount Chief Kalmet Dick and the Butterfly Trust have jointly agreed that the proposed new library will also function as a resource centre for the entire Maskelynes community.
Apart from having to find a source of funding, the proposed project will require careful consideration of the different aspects of human resources skills necessary to ensure the facility, once built, will serve its desired purpose in the long term. This entailed visits to school libraries in urban Port Vila and the Vanuatu Institute of Teacher Education for guidance from ni-Vanuatu staff.
The estimated total cost of this project is approximately VT1.7 million (NZ$24,500). The Butterfly Trust has submitted an application to New Zealand Aid for the bulk of this funding with some labour and materials to be donated by the Maskelynes community as their ‘in-kind’ contribution. Construction will be carried out by a team of experienced builders from the Maskelynes and overseen by William Ennis, a tutor at the Uliveo Rural Training Centre.
Also required are the services of an experienced librarian both for the initial set up and also to provide training to a designated library administrator. Butterfly Trust will also facilitate any follow-up support as required from time to time.