We are extremely excited to announce that in just under 6 weeks we will be on a plane heading to the beautiful island nation of Vanuatu!
Why, you ask? Well, not just for a holiday like you might think, but for something we have always been interested in participating in but just never had the chance to. So, on 1 July 2014, we leave Brisbane for the island of Espiritu Santo (commonly known as just Santo), where, for 2 weeks, we will be participating in a voluntary Fly ‘n Build relief project. Susie’s step-dad, affectionately known to all as ‘Wally’, has dedicated years to helping out those less fortunate in overseas countries, predominantly in the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, and with Wayne being pretty handy with the tools (and Susie just there to supervise them both!), we decided it was time to give something back. We have spoken to so many people who have taken part in these voluntary missions, and all say it is something we will never forget. While some of the itinerary for those 2 weeks is subject to the weather, here is just a brief overview of some of the work that the team of 50+ volunteers will be doing while staying at Aore Island Resort:
- Building a chapel on the army base
- Extending a church that was built by the team just 12 months ago that is now too small for it’s congregation
- Repairing schools damaged by white ants
- Repainting school buildings and churches
- Distributing over 600 boxes of donated clothing
- Handing out food and toiletry parcels to patients in the local hospital.
There will be some down time in the second week where all volunteers will get to travel to some of Santo’s most popular tourist spots, including Champagne Beach and the Blue Holes, before returning to Brisbane on 13 July. We, however, will be extending our stay until late July, and in conjunction with various tourism operators from islands including Santo and Efate (whose capital is the renowned Port Vila), as well as the Malampa Tourism Office which covers the islands of Malakula, Ambrym and Epi, we can’t want to share our South Pacific adventures with you!
Just a sneak peak of some of what’s in store for us over there:
- Visit a real cultural festival (not normally open to visitors)
- Scuba diving and snorkelling, including the SS President Coolidge
- Visit the underwater post office
- Participate in Children’s Day and Independence celebrations
- Three-day intrepid volcano trek
- Jungle zipline (aka giant flying fox!)
- Island night tour, including traditional dancing and eating
- Participate in a tour showing traditional food planting methods, ceremonies and the art of sand drawing
- Cascade and waterfall walks.
Our itinerary will only grow as we get closer, and with Susie never having been out of the country at all and Wayne not since he was still a teenager, it will be a real experience for us both – and probably a challenge! Both of us need passports, neither of us has ever had to worry about exchange rates or how we buy something overseas, travel insurance needs to be arranged, you can’t just assume you can get internet wherever you go overseas (don’t rely on global roaming we’re told), there is so much to think about in what seems like only a short space of time.
We’re really looking forward to experiencing a new culture and seeing what a different way of life it is in a country that’s not so fortunate as Australia. The volunteer portion of our trip is funded by donations, fundraising efforts and money put in by the volunteer travellers themselves, and we are humbled to be taking part in such a fantastic relief effort.
If you would like to contribute in some way to either this trip or participate in future relief efforts, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your contact details and how you would like to help, and we will forward these details on.