A Travellerspoint blog


~ up close and personal

After the stress and anxiety of finishing off the school building and the emotional roller coaster of the official opening Nic took off to Australia for some R & R. Deb chose to relax in true local fashion...... by visiting our local active volcano! (Actually, that’s probably not true – “local fashion” would involve much more kava drinking!)

As we were approaching, it emitted a couple of big puffs of smoke but we decided that was just the volcano making us feel welcome....

Our campsite was cleared for us and we dug into some “treats” that Lou brought to Epi for us – the usual stuff we crave but can’t get, like cheese and dip.

We were able to do a bit of a hike up the old lava flow from when Lopevi was firing up last May.

Deb also was able to give climbing a coconut a go, bushknife in hand and all (don’t look, Mum!)

A highlight was the local crabs for dinner (we decided against going diving for more fish after Mike nearly became shark-dinner the day before! Pesky little cartilaginous fish!)

The boys helped chew the kava (looks tasty doesn’t it!)
...and then Rian even volunteered his shirt for it to be strained through, now that’s dedication to your narcotic drink!

Despite the puffs of volcanic ash, curious sharks and waves that did their best to drown our fibreglass dinghy on the way back, we made it to the safety of Epi completely intact (wet, cold and exhausted, but intact!)

Glad we didn’t try to go this weekend – I took this photo this morning...

Posted by debnic 15:10 Comments (3)

The Grand Opening


The auspicious date of Friday the 13th arrived which heralded the opening of the repaired school building and our little library.

The opening was a big occasion. We had special guests from Vila and all over the island, as well as friends from Kingsway School in NZ who came and put the finishing touches of a coat of paint on the refurbished classroom. Lou (our in country manager) came and was honoured by the men of Nikaura. They carried her around the school grounds in a “throne” behind the custom entrance and singing.

Chief Timothy made an animated speech:

Thank you gifts were given to the special guests:

Lou and Deb opened the library:

The builders and Nic in front of the “fruits” of their labour:

We had “uniforms” specially made, don’t we look spiffy!

Leipakoa made a fantastic speech in which she referred to a banana tree that one of the men had cut from her garden and placed in the middle of the field in front of the building...

Leipakoa told this story:
When she was walking back from first talking to Deb on the phone (when we were still in Australia but preparing to come to Vanuatu) she met the late school council president’s wife walking the other way. The woman was carrying small banana plants and Leipakoa asked her what she was doing with them. She replied that she was just taking them somewhere else to plant so Leipakoa asked if she could have one to put into her garden to mark the day she first spoke with her Australian volunteer. Leipakoa explained to the coucil president’s wife that she was just starting something and she wanted to see if, like the banana, the aim of having a volunteer come to Nikaura would grow into something. And now both the banana plant and the volunteer project have borne fruit. (I cried the whole way through it – Deb)

Posted by debnic 01:04 Comments (4)

Boxes and Boxes of Books.

Finally they are here!

Thursday afternoon the air in the village rang with cries of “Salo, salo, salo,” which heralds the coming of a cargo boat. We were particularly excited about this cargo because we had put 44 boxes of books on board when we were in Vila to see Melinda and Peter.

The books were donated by the family and friends of Rowville Secondary College, Woodend Primary School and my mother, Rhonda Wain. So, many, many thanks to all involved. Very special thanks to Emily Luck who coordinated the book drive, Bron Rees-Allen and her 7B IT Class and Les Clement and his 10G Civics Class.

The students and members of the school council helped to carry the books for the unloading point in the village to the school. Everyone helped out.


We’ve opened all the boxes and are steadily working through categorising them ready for the library (it has helped a lot that they have been sorted out before going into boxes – thanks guys!) It was like Christmas and I was tempted to abandon work to read various picture story books which brought back memories for me (See Dick Run, The Hungry Caterpillar, Come Back Amelia Bedelia and Giant John in particular!)

Now all we need to do is finish the roof-rebuilding project and we’ll have a place for our library as well. We’re very excited.... this is me when all the books were arriving!


Thank you all SO MUCH!

Posted by debnic 17:04 Comments (2)

Our First Visitors

We’ve been in Vila to catch up with Deb’s sister, Melinda and her partner, Peter who are the first visitors we’ve been able to catch up with. (We missed a friend of Nic’s who came to Vanuatu last year, sorry Kev!)

So we’ve had an opportunity to be tourists on Efate (which we haven’t done before).


We checked out Mele Cascades....




...and the “Secret Garden”. (Don’t worry, Mum, it’s not a poisonous snake, only a boa – I did suggested Min try wearing it around her neck like a feather boa but she wouldn’t be in it! ~ Deb)


and Nic made a new reptilian friend too.

Posted by debnic 14:21 Comments (2)

The Work Starts

After the laziness of the Christams/New Year season, things have started happening again. We had applied for a grant to fund a rebuild of a classroom roof that was damaged in Cyclone Ivy 2004, the money came through just before Christmas and we went and spent it early this year. Then the materials arrived on a cargo ship and there was a nervous tension as we watched the packs of roofing iron swinging around on the crane as the ship bobbed in the swell and the crew tried to lower the goods into the punt to bring them ashore. It all made it to dry land safely and everyone went to work unloading...


Then the clean up began...


And then the coral was carried up from the beach...



And some cement mixed to seal the walls and repair some damage to the slab floor.


Timber was “bush-milled” and the trusses have been put together, so the roof is on it’s way!

Posted by debnic 14:18 Comments (2)

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