Vanuatu

Contrary to popular belief I am not in Vanuatu sunning myself for an extended holiday. I am actually working for free reviewing a Conconut Oil Mill and plantation that a local school runs. They are running their entire school and mission on Coconut Biofuel.

The model is being looked at for rolling out to other mission schools in the Pacific Region based on my review. I have looked at local operations in Santo and on Aore Island and compared them with the small scale operation Aore School. The number look goo, basically it is almost impossible for the school to lose money and at the same time reduce dependence on almost enitrely on importing diesel to run the school.

The school has 220 fee paying but subsidised students who board on Aore Island. For power they run a Diesel fuled genset that basically provides power for 3 hours of light per night. If they can make all their own fuel they could run the genset permanently which then lets them have satellite internet and voip dramatically reducing the horredous R/T based communications bottle neck.

The school also operated a barge for shceduled and on-call freight services between the local communities, it also has diesel engines. As well the school runs three diesel tractors and a couple of diesel 4wd vehicles.

By producing their own fuel they dramatically reduce the costs of the school and at the same time provide income through additional sales o the biofuel to nearby resorts that also rely upon diesel imports.

Port facilities in Santo are basic and on Aore and Malo non-existant. That said the area is beautiful and peaceful and the people are the most polite and hospitable people I have dealt with in a long time. When you discuss world issues with them they are surprising up to date and it is interesting to get a fresh perspective on things like "Global Warming" and NZ and Australian meddling in the Pacific.

Basically the local think that global warming is a crock, they believe it is a myth being played by the rich nations to stop poor natioons using what they have always used for their own countries and they think countries like Australia and new Zealand stick their noses in where they are not wanted.

The harshest criticism comes for Helen Clark and her nosy, pushy attitude over Fiji. Vanuatuans are Melanesians like Fijians. They are also remarkably more well informed about local conditions in Fiji and the reasoning behind the coup. They 100% back the actions of Commodore Bainimarama in cleaning up the corruption of Fiji.

What about the rest of Vanuatu? Well the fligh over was interesting to say the least. I had the rudest, most ignorant woman in the world sitting behind me. She never stopped talking at 112db and giving her unwanted opinion on everything from airline seats to how scummy Vanuatu was outside the resorts. It was when she starting talking about her fear of landings and how she would never cope with a trip to the UK that I snapped. It took three hours but I could take no more and told her to "Just Shut the Fuck Up will you, oh and please let me know if you ever decide on the UK trip as I would like to make sure I'm never again on a flight with you…by the way if ever I become Minister of Internal Affairs I will personally make sure your passport is cancelled and I will do it when you are in some remote place so we never have to be inflicted with your kind of traveller again."

The applause from the sourrounding passengers was deafening causing the beetroot faced bitch to sit down and start huffing and puffing. Even the crew thanked me….hope I get an upgrade on the way back.

Vanuatu is run down, but the optimism of the people and a real can do attitude is refreshing. Health and Saftey nightmares exist every where you go, but hey who cares, they sure as hell don't. The boat I came back on from Aore did have one life jacket for the 15 of us. In the more remote areas you just do what is required to make things happen. After reviewing the mill and seeing the committment of the locals to get ahead despite their government's lassitude I am encouraged to assit the school some more.

If anyone knows about Satelitte Internet delivery then please contact me for a wee project in Vanuatu. The photos are of the school boat bringing some students to Independence Day celebrations on Santo at Luganville. If you look closely art the boat which we then took to Aore, it has a dead bullock on the front part of the cabin just behind the three fron passengers.Me working hard at reviewing the coconut mill and Me and Bettik the Plant manager showing me copra knives as I stuff my face on fresh coconut.

I am now back in Port Vila after flying back from Santo in a Twin Otter. The  Santo airfield has been modernised with Chinese money but the domestic terminal in Vila remains the pits. There is much infrastructure that remains from World War II, and the locals recycle almost everything. The principal at Aore School has the last working 1942 Willys Jeep and the locals use the Marsden Mats left over from the war for a multitude of purposes including fencing, tables, copra drying and decoration and art. There are heaps of Quonset Huts in various states of disrepair and repair. The local language is Bislama but everyone speaks English and also some French. The neglect of the French is apparent everywhere.

 

 


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