Thursday, 6 th May, 10.15 PM Aneityium Island, Vanuatu

Today seemed to me a relaxing day of just doing stuff in the village. While the medical team set off, some by boat, some by foot, to another village, we became involved in Robert’s mud brick wood burning stove project. Colin, one of the villagers, took us up the hill behind the village to where he thought might be some good clay. We returned with a few plastic bags of bright red clay that proved to be very sticky stuff. As we set about making bricks, the project attracted more attention. Various of the locals became interested, with some of the women very interested in having one at home. The benefits of such a stove, that allows for more efficient use of firewood, less smoke produced inside the house, seemed to be appreciated.

Jonathan, the principal of the local primary school, came along with some students, at which stage things really took off. More clay was brought down, and eventually produced more bricks than the basic model required, to allow for a larger one if needed. We were pleased that so many people were so enthusiastic about the project, and really seemed to own it after a few hours. Robert spent more time with Colin on building the stove, as we will not be here when the bricks are ready for use in 2 or 3 weeks.

We were again treated to a great lunch, and later welcomed back the medical crew. it seemed that when they set of, there was the option of walking or boat. Not sure how their recent boat trip might have figured in the decision making process, but most of them opted for a 1 hour walk, over a 1/2 hour boat trip. That’s a 1 hour walk according to Richard. This turned into a 3 hour walk in real time. At least they opted for the 1/2 hour boat ride home.

In the evening we packed up the generator, computer, video projector equipment, DVD’s and set up a movie night. The kids in the village had a great time watching “Beethoven”. On returning to the boat we were left wondering how people here related to such a movie. Most people here have never left this island. As such they have never seen a car, and certainly never experienced houses we take for granted in our suburban lives. Do they imagine that the scene depicted in these sort of comedies is purely fictitious? I’ll have to enquire about that one tomorrow.

So, here we sit on Chimere once again. The rest have gone to sleep. Robert has fallen asleep on the saloon couch with his computer still on, and I’m just about to send this entry off. Determined to go for a good swim tomorrow.

Bill Vrijens