Blogs from Santo, Vanuatu, Oceania


Oceania » Vanuatu » Santo February 26th 2016

New Caledonia The alarm sounded at 6.30am and we rushed up to the viewing platform to see the cruise ship approaching the harbour of Noumea, New Caledonia. As the sun rose, we watched as the captain delicately glided the giant ship into the semi circular harbour scattered with fishing boats. Drums started to beat and as we peered over the side of the boat native islanders dressed in bamboo skirts and smothered in white body paint were greeting us by singing traditional tribal songs. Having survived three choppy days at sea we were eager to get back onto solid land and explore Noumea. The majority of people from the cruise booked onto organised tours but we decided to break away and venture into the town on our own. Using a combination of Will's broken French and ... read more
Thatched housing - Lifou, New Caledonia
Xepenehe- Lifou, New Caledonia
Lagoon, Port Vila, Vanuatu

Oceania » Vanuatu » Santo January 12th 2014

Vanuatu is a collection of 82 little islands located west of Fiji. Sheryn's first son Matt inherited the families coconut plantation on Aore island and lives there with his fun loving wife Illington and six year old son Sean. The tropical island is in poverty, but happy poverty if that makes sense. The people are all so willing to give you what they have, when that really consists of the bare minimum. The stores along the streets are comparable to a dirty half empty dollar store. There was a main market where fruits, vegetables and goods were sold. The only things that were sold were produce grown on the island, even packed in woven palm leave bags! Transportation was so different as well. Trucks and vehicles would roll by with 10 people hanging off the back ... read more
SS President Coolidge back in the day
Diagram of the ship wreck
I found Nemo!

Oceania » Vanuatu » Santo » Luganville August 25th 2011

Getting a good night’s sleep in the bush is always a tricky thing. Depending on one’s level of jet-lag, adjusting to an early bedtime can be difficult. When there isn’t much in the way of electricity after the sun goes down and your day begins at sunrise, the prospect of staying up past 7pm seems like a tremendous feat. Once you do get to bed, it can be difficult finding the proper body position to fit the uneven ground or occasional cement floor. Regardless of how diligent you are about tucking in your net or zipping your tent flap, there will often be that one persistent mosquito singing a high-pitched lullaby in your ear while desperately looking for some small patch of exposed flesh. If you do manage to find a moment of solace with the ... read more
Workshop Faculty
Material Prep
Sunday Dress Parade

Oceania » Vanuatu » Santo » Luganville August 18th 2011

Well everyone…it’s been a month since the last entry and a great deal has taken place. Of greater significance, however, is what has NOT taken place. Please try to remember folks, this is Vanuatu, and we first-worlders need to be able to roll with the punches. If you’re not interested in the dreary prose, here’s the short version: The construction of the Sele Clinic is being put on hold at the request of the Ministry of Health, but against my personal desire. I want to do what’s best for the greater good and most economically efficient for our donors, but I feel terrible about not finishing the clinic this year. However, what you want and how you feel are rarely in agreement. If you’re strange enough to enjoy my ramblings, here’s the long version: I’d like ... read more

Oceania » Vanuatu » Santo February 7th 2011

I joined Project MARC in Vanuatu for the first time in August 2010 on the recommendation of a good friend and previous volunteer; although I had travelled a great deal in the past, I had no idea of what to expect or of the truly unique experiences I would have there with the Ni-Vanuatu people. I was taking time out of British doctoring, ready to get away from the tick-boxing and medical bureaucracy often rife in Western training. I was keen to get to the heart of a community project, help in anyway possible regardless of role and be part of a something that had significance on a very local level. Becoming involved in building the Joseph Mape dispensary on the West Coast of Santo was just that. From days' treks through the bush recruiting manpower ... read more
One of many..
Carrying the load.
The Bricks

Oceania » Vanuatu » Santo December 24th 2010

The beginning of December turned into a time of contemplative re-evaluation for our Sele Clinic Project, and also a time of frenzied rush to get goods to where they needed to be. On the 15th, I had to leave Espiritu Santo to take care of business in Port Vila for the end of our year in Vanuatu. The clinic was not completed, nor did it look like it could be until Project MARC returns to finish the job. I left the villages holding the bag. The chiefs who’d worked so hard were left hanging. They understood the situation and had lived through the problems. They agreed to the change in the plan but it didn’t really matter. The reality was that the clinic was not finished and that was a real kick in the gut. It ... read more
Slab Complete
Fueling in the rain is rough

Oceania » Vanuatu » Santo December 1st 2010

So moving water to the site turned into a bit of a tough time. But while I was worrying about the water in the stream and the lack of water in the tank, what I should have been REALLY concerned with was water that would eventually come from the sky. It’s finally arrived, and in the words of my brother Devin, “Woot!” Now you need to understand that while working here, I’ve always got a few things going at the same time. Kinda like juggling. Although I may spend days getting soaked on the mountaintop, there’s always a few other things going on elsewhere that have the potential to stall out in my absence. One of these was wood milling, another was the cement mixer, another was the roofing/fasteners/paint supply, another was the truck to carry ... read more
Contractual Agreements

Oceania » Vanuatu » Santo November 25th 2010

Third week of November. This was to be the week of water. And what a week it’s turned into. As some of you may know, there is no running water at the project site and the nearest water source is several hundred meters from where we’re working (there’s also some serious hills and cliffs incorporated into that distance). We have already moved a 6000-liter water tank to the site so if we can just fill that up, we should be good for the completion of the foundation. If we need more water after the foundation’s complete, we’ll have to fetch more for the mortar. Now the tools that we have available to move the water include: our trusty steed (the Land Cruiser), three 200-litre plastic drums, a diesel powered water pump, a spool of 1inch hose ... read more
Heading down the cliff.
The Bung

Oceania » Vanuatu » Santo November 7th 2010

After weeks of wheeling and dealing I was hoping to begin the movement of supplies in the first week of November. One of the many arrangements had been for a Toyota Land Cruiser to be put at the project’s disposal for the construction of the clinic. When said like that, it seems a simple thing. But remember now, this is Vanuatu. The Land Cruiser belongs to the North District Pharmacy and was donated by AusAid for pharmacy use. Rural Clinic Construction falls under the auspices of Samna Province Rural Health. It took some doing, but in the end the hospital agreed to trade their Land Cruiser for the Rural Health truck for the duration of 5 weeks. When first approached, the pharmacy didn’t want to go for the trade. When they found out that Project MARC ... read more
The Tank
Bush Whacking
Renovated Storage House

Oceania » Vanuatu » Santo October 25th 2010

As some of you all know. I’m not back in the states as was originally planned. I’m still in Vanuatu, still building clinics. Had I held onto my original tickets, I would have landed back in the states late October and spent the holidays with family. I’ve changed my tickets thanks to some very generous benefactors here in Vanuatu. These benefactors have promised to finance the construction of a second clinic this year in Espiritu Santo. The location has already been selected by the Ministry of Health and Project MARC had already planned on building a clinic at this location. Realistically, I didn’t think that we’d get the funding for it within the next two years. The villages surrounding our next clinic site are truly lucky to have such generous business owners on their island. Now ... read more
The Road
The local.
Staking it out.

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