[New Mission 3 photos now up – admin]

Monday 26 July 2010 Lolowai, Ambae

Matt, Lanie and I nearly made it ashore for the 7:30 devotions at the Lolowai Regional Hospital.  As it turned out we were about 20 minute late and made it in time for staff announcements where I had an opportunity to introduce ourselves and briefly go over the mudbrick idea and the making of Low Smoke Stoves.

They were a very receptive audience and so later in the morning after a 30 minute, very rough, drive inland (and 30 minute return ride) in search of suitable clay we conducted a demonstration on the hospital grounds.  Our driver, a man called Hope, was the anti-malaria manager for the region and seemed to know everyone and every place in the Vanuatu.  His father was one of the first Melanesian doctors in Vanuatu.  He also did an amazing job over the bumpy roads with a vehicle whose fuel gauge rarely went above ZERO, with the yellow warning light permanently ON.  The reason for this seemed to be clear when we stopped at a shop to fill up.  The diesel was pumped from beaten up old 44 gallon drums into old 2 litre sherry bottles, then tipped into the tank one at a time by hand.  The cost was 200 vatu ($2.50 AUS) per litre and we bought 3 glass jars full.

Tonight we were invited to local eyecare nurse Mary Tabi’s home for dinner where we had an opportunity to meet many of the hospital staff again, including Mathias, the manager of the hospital.  Mathias seemed a very thoughtful learned man and when I mentioned the story of Katrina, the dental trained woman from just down the Ambae coast at Walaha who was now at teacher’s college instead of practising dentistry (see earlier Ships Log), he sounded very sad and I got the impression he would be happy to give her a job tomorrow at the hospital.  He finds it difficult to get staff in the outlying regions with many wishing to go straight to Pt Vila or Santo

It was a wonderful night at Mary’s, topped off with some music being played by Matt and some of the local lads.

We have just made it back on the boat with Matthew declaring that today was his first serious, rough-road, back-of-the-ute ride.

Tomorrow we exit this harbour on something close to high tide, then head across to the village of Naravorovo on Maewo, then the next day we go down to Asanvari to pick up the young boy with a bad knee and his mother.  We’ll evacuate them to Santo, which proves to be a fast sail given the quite strong SE winds we are experiencing

It’ll be another early morning, hence the short message tonight.

Smooth seas, fair breeze and back to Maewo.

Rob Latimer