I am happy because I spent the majority of my holidays up on Ambrym, where Mark Holden is building some rainwater harvesting systems with the community, EWBNZ and Rotary. The projects appear to be going well, and right on schedule with island time.
I took lots of photos of different types of toilets on the island, and even got a demo of their toilet mould. It was brought by an Australian Aid Volunteer, and has been used a lot in the past few years. Ambrym is a good example of Sanitation projects working well, with toilet standards much higher than what I have seen in places of Port Vila, and all now community driven.
The community was amazingly welcoming, and I learnt a lot, now I can speak rudimentary Bislama, make simple mats, and I now can not only recognise the fruit and veg at the market; but I know how to cook it too!
And we climbed a Volcano!
Back at the office the Christmas Rush is over! Most people are back in and working.
To start the year, we are hit with some hard news: our Environmental officer, recruited late last year, has found another job. Our Program Coordinator is looking after her sick relative on a different island, and one more team member has got a scholarship to study in New Caledonia... starting next week! The team is feeling understaffed, but not directionless… because our programme is very optimistic and we have a lot of work to do.
We need to scope out a Market Analysis for our two selected communities. The market analysis will be hard, as no one on our team has previous experience in setting up a small (or any!) business. We are lucky there is an Australian Red Cross Volunteer here with another project who can help us, so it will be a great learning experience for all of us. We have a good procedure set up for it too, with a lot of input from the IWC.
We have also selected two schools to work with, so consultations with the principals and teachers are happening before the kids start back for the year. After the kids are back, we can do a baseline data collection and assess the curriculum in the WASH sector. We will be working with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health to do this.
Of course I am doing some engineering work too - I am costing up the Live and Learn toilet designs, and investigating the current waste disposal facilities. I have already set up an online storage facility for all our documents, as we do not have a server, and things are ticking along.