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Published: June 19th 2009
Proof for mom
See Mom, I'm alive. Here's photographic proof.
Well everyone, it’s time to start up the ‘ol blog once again. I made it to Vanuatu after a couple hours in transit (37) and luckily all my luggage made it through too. There was a bit of hassle at the Brisbane airport that forced me to shill out a heap of cash that I didn’t want to spend but all-in-all things worked out in the end. I guess the airlines don’t like it when you travel with as many bags as I do, especially when they weigh as much as mine. Oddly, less than 25% of the gear was actually personal items like clothing, all the rest was equipment for the Project MARC expeditions (and of course a majority of our traveling office).
It’s so nice to be back in Port Vila. Both Project MARC and I have so many friends here. To Henk & Nelleke, Miriam Carlot says hello from the Ministry of Health, and to the Alvei alumni Dan, Aiden, Ivan, and Kev all hope that you are doing well.
Some of you know, but some of you may not, that the global economic situation has taken a hard hit on Vanuatu. Tourism numbers are slacking
Chris Borreson and Sharon Skare paid a visit to me in Northern California. Chris was the crazy one who bailed me out in '07 when Alvei was short of crew.
off, and donation money to aid organizations has dropped as well. It doesn’t help that these two items are the two largest sources of income for the country of Vanautu.
The only major commodity that Vanuatu produces for the global market is coconut oil and recently that market has taken a fall. The result of this has been the closure of the country’s Northern coconut factory. All the copra boats (which collect coconuts from rural communities) in the Northern part of the country have stopped making their usual pick-up and delivery trips.
This problem is larger than it seems because selling copra (raw dried coconut) is the only source of cash income for most rural villages, and the copra boats are the only means of transportation for many people on the outer islands. There is not an extraordinary need for cash in rural areas, but families do need money to pay for school fees and health care. Also, Project MARC was planning on using the copra boats to transport building supplies for the construction of a clinic on the West Coast of Santo. This is not possible anymore. This clinic construction was to be the flagship project for
Another standard view from Vanuatu
Aiden and the girls went up to North Efate on Sunday. I got to tag along. And yes, this is where I live now.
our 2009 season, but now it will have to be postponed for a few months if not a year.
Now during the month of July, Project MARC teams will survey select areas of Santo’s West Coast. An economist (funded thankfully by Rotary International) will survey the area for possible ways to stimulate local economies in the absence of the copra industry and a group of medical students will be compiling data for the Vanuatu Ministry of Health. We also hope to work with the US Peace Corps to assist with their Healthy Schools Initiative.
I’ll be here in Port Vila for a week or so to take care of business with the Ministry of Health before heading on up to Luganville. The last week of this month will be spent making preparations for July’s expedition. Brian Renshaw, a former MARC volunteer, will be hosting our team in Luganville for several nights and has even offered to accompany us on some of the July expedition. Brian hasn’t donated money to Project MARC’s expeditions but what he gives is worth hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.
Brian is not the only one of his kind to be sure. There
Scott and I would run the trails around Montalvo in the mornings in prep for the MARC expeditions.
have been several others that have housed, fed, and provided for my personal needs so that I can do this work in Vanuatu. Both my bank account and Project MARC’s are ludicrously low on funds, but the non-monetary gifts we have been given are many.
Deb Hatch of San Diego allowed me to sleep rent-free on her back porch while I worked at La Jolla Playhouse for the early months of this year. Had I needed to pay rent on an apartment, I doubt that I could have afforded to come out to Vanuatu this year. Thank you Deb, the work I do here is made possible by your hospitality.
After I was laid off at La Jolla Playhouse two other angels came to my aid, courtesy of the Montalvo Arts Center. To Kirsten Bontrager and Kelly Sicat, thank you for giving me employment with your wonderful organization. Without that job I never would have been able to finance my season this year with Project MARC. You saved me from unemployment & uncertainty, and I loved working with the Youth up in Silicon Valley.
To all of you who have given money for water projects, clinics, and
More Cross Training
Scott and I hit the local climbing venues to work the upper body strength. I was horrible, it had just been too long since I hung out on a cliff face.
medical expeditions, I hope I can show you adequately all the things that you will accomplish this year. I also hope you understand that what Project MARC volunteers accomplish this season is entirely your doing. YOU are the ones building water systems, YOU are the ones providing health care, YOU are the ones helping these remote island communities. We volunteers are simply the tools of your work. We are the scalpel, needle, and thread, but you are the surgeons. Thank you for allowing us to be the tools of your good deeds.
This July will see 7 volunteers leaving Luganville under the banner of Project MARC. We number 3 Medical Students, 3 Non-Medical Volunteers and myself. Those listed below give both money and time of their own accord. By the time the expedition is over, they will have added blood, sweat and tears to the list of their donations.
Flights alone can be over a thousand dollars, and then there is the cost of food, lodging, and transportation while on expedition. For those of you who didn’t know, volunteers must cover their own costs. If
Youth Action Coalition
These are some of the kids that I got to work with at the Montalvo Arts Center. They are an amazing batch of Sillicon Valley leaders. They'll change the world someday.
any of the above listed names are known to you, please do me a favor. Send them a letter of thanks or give them a call and wish them luck. The work is rewarding and enjoyable, but can be gruelingly difficult at times too.
Thanks all for the support you’ve given,
the support you continue to rain down upon us,
and for taking the time to read.
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