Best Public Toilet in the South Pacific is still the best !!
Village Experience Day comes to an end
Sunday 11 June 2017
Paunangisu village, North Efate
With three crewmembers flying home to Australia this morning (Cam, Rob Lott & Josh) and Martin on a “relaxation break” up on Pele Island it was only natural that Peter and I would head to Paunangisu in North Efate to attend church and be reacquainted with longstanding friends in the village.
Elder Kalmaire organised the transport and by 9 o’clock Peter and I were on the road for the 1 hour journey north, ably driven by Melvyn
The weather was glorious and the sun glistened on the sea all the way to the horizon as we passed Havana harbour, providing first-time visitor Peter with the perfect introduction to the region.
The congregation was in full voice when we arrived but of course there’s no sneaking in the back here; especially for two white-folk like us. Young Johnston (a very helpful year 10 student we’d got to know the last time we were here) was allocated to look after us and whilst we did initially sit in the back row of the church pretty quickly Johnston moved us closer to the front under direction from the elders.
The service was conducted largely in the local Bislama, with several hymns sung in what is called “language”. That is their village or regional language known as Ngunanese; one of more than 100 such languages throughout the country. Whilst we could gain a reasonable understanding of what was being said, fortunately a generous amount of English was also spoken; partly for our benefit. The welcome was very warm and there was even a song written and performed to mark our “return”.
I was invited at one point to say a few words and it gave us an opportunity to share greetings from our church in North Ringwood and speak of the warm connection both communities share, despite our obvious differences.
After the service there was the obligatory handshake congo-line from the exit door, giving us a chance to reacquaint ourselves, if ever so briefly, with the many people we’ve got to know over the years. It really was an emotional time with lots of hugs, handshakes and kisses all round.
The new secretary of the congregation Margaret remained with us for lunch after which we met Asel, the amazing lady who has taken on the job of regularly cleaning the toilet; not just any toilet, but of course the Best Public Toilet in the South Pacific.
The facility really looked great and truly lived up to its name!!
Whilst Asel receives a small payment for her services we nonetheless gave her a portable solar light as a special gift in recognition of her dedication and the importance of her role
Along with the construction of the toilet 18 months ago there was also the installation of the 20,000 L water tank donated by South Australian company Aquamate; plus of course gutters and downpipes both sides of the 30 metre long church building.
It was great to hear stories of how the watertank never ran out during the last extended dry period and was the last port of call for the local village residents when it came to obtaining freshwater for cooking and drinking. As we sat there under the mango tree chatting and eating, many people came to fill up buckets, which only confirmed the importance of this facility, open to everyone, in the life of the community.
A massive thank-you goes out to Aquamate in South Australia for their generosity!!
We were both tired by the time we made it back to Chimere, still bobbing at her morning lines on the seawall on the Waterfront.
It was then a local dinner of fish and chips and pretty soon it was time for sleep; particularly after getting up at 4:30 this morning to help in getting our crewmembers away.
In reflecting on the day, my lasting memory is of the “welcome song” in this morning’s church service and the explanation from Elder Roger that … “we welcome many visitors to our village but today Robert, we welcome you home”
Smooth seas, fair breeze and home in the village.
Who would have thought the opening of the Paunangisu village public toilet would make it onto the BBC News website? Not me that’s for sure.
Read into it what you like, but if we can just secure the Queen’s official endorsement we might change the toilet’s slogan to something like “Royal Flush before Royal Ascent” … maybe it needs a bit more work …?
Anyway, hope you enjoy the latest 2016 March Vanuatu MSM Member Update (Supplement) edition featuring the official opening of the BEST Public Toilet in The South Pacific
(For some light relief visit … www.bestpublictoilet.org )
And here are the overseas news links …
BBC News Report
Radio New Zealand Reports
Audio & Transcript
Blessings and cheers
Rob Latimer & Mike Clarke
Medical Sailing Ministries
Paunangisu Village Partnership
Vanuatu Dental Care Service
What Aid Where
as highlighted in the recent MSM Member Update newsletter the website for the BEST Public Toilet in The South Pacific is now up and running
Here’s the link …
At the moment the village are busy completing the finishing touches to the toilet in readiness for Sunday’s opening.
Hope you enjoy the website
all the best from the village of Paunangisu, North Efate
Greetings from MSM
We hope you enjoy the latest Medical Sailing Ministries Update newsletter, featuring the start of the actual building of the freshwater and toilet project in the village of Paunangisu. These are exciting times in what is otherwise a rather quiet part of rural Vanuatu.
Also attached, again primarily for those in Melbourne, is an invitation to a re-run of the widely successful 60s Music Night, that was held back at the start of October.
The first event raise around $2,200, for solar power on the toilet, with over 120 people in attendance.
Given the enthusiastic response to the night and the fact that so many people either wanted to come (but couldn’t) or would like to have brought friends (but didn’t) it was decided to run the night again.
If you can get along on Friday 13th November, we can guarantee a good, fun night !! For those who sent donations but couldn’t make it last time, the $15 entry-donation is waived if you can get along this time.
Greetings from MSM
We hope you enjoy the latest Medical Sailing Ministries Vanuatu Member Update newsletter, containing news (and photos) of the shipping container’s much-anticipated arrival in the village of Paunangisu.
The planned public toilet construction will mostly be done by locals in the village, but a work-party will head over to Vanuatu on 18 October, with an intensive timetable hopefully seeing the project completed in 1 month. Maybe we’re just dream’n, but that’s the plan !!
For those in Melbourne this week-end and looking for a fun gig on Saturday night (3/10) don’t forget the 60s Music Night, in support of solar power for the Vanuatu toilet’s lights and pump.
A flyer for the 60s Music Night has been attached and is also mentioned in the Member Update. The night will involve a live DJ playing songs from the 60s, that will actually be performed by a live band on site and in attendance. Smashing Baby !! It’s a cafe-style, dress-up, nostalgia event that will also feature 60s adverts, TV shows and news video clips that’ll leave you wanting to watch Forrest Gump again.
What Aid Where
The container is now in Port Vila and will soon be transported to the village of Paunangisu
The work party arrives on Sun 18 October and will head up to the village the next day for an official Welcome & Sod-turning Ceremony.
It’s all getting very exciting !!
The latest 2015 Toilet step by step building-guide Step-By-Step instruction manual for the building of the toilet is attached for your information and study … the practical “exam” commences 19 Oct and will extend for around 1 month !!
Mostly thanks to the meticulous preparation by George & Joy Harvey we are pushing for an A+++ mark in this group-assessment assignment
Thank you to everyone who has assisted in getting this project from dream to … very close to … reality.
A new article on the PVP was also published in September Crosslight.
Read the report in the Leader Newspaper, 25 August 2015, P12. on the Toilet block project. The container being sent to Vanuatu was off the coast of Noumea at the time of posting after going via Sydney and Brisbane.