A young girl took to the waves every day with her bruised and battered surfboard. She was told not to go into the ocean to play in the waves.
If she was a boy, things might have been easier. But she couldn’t change who she was and, more to the point, she didn’t want to. She often wondered about the board she tucked under her arm as she waded into the clear blue waters of Vanuatu. Where did it come from? Who made it? Why didn’t it sink? It took this little girl twelve years to understand the secrets of her first surfboard.
Resmah Kalotiti won’t tell you that she is the best female surfer in Vanuatu, but she is. At twenty years old, she has a unique style both in and out of the water. It’s the style of a trailblazer. It’s the style of someone who is quietly confident, not only with herself but in the universe playing out her destiny.
What happens in communities when migrants leave? Regardless of the benefits provided by remittance income and the skills learnt in new labour markets, there are concerns about what occurs back home. These questions are also relevant for the seasonal workers themselves who move back and forth between countries, coming and going from their communities and culture. One primary factor is how seasonal work can be gendered. For example, in 2013-14 and 2014-15, approximately 87 per cent of participants in Australia’s Seasonal Worker Program were male, which can have implications for families and local communities.
At the recent State of the Pacific 2016 conference hosted by the State, Society and Governance in Melanesia program at The Australian National University, Peter Bumseng spoke about his experience in the New Zealand Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) program. Peter was one of the original 45 people from Vanuatu who were sponsored in a pilot program by the World Bank to work in New Zealand in 2007. He has participated in the program every year since, and five years ago he and his wife established the Strengthening Seasonal Worker Family Program in Vanuatu.
In his speech to the conference and an interview afterwards, Peter explained how his community had responded to people leaving and returning as seasonal workers: Read the rest of this entry »
A project to locate the graves of blackbirded South Sea Islanders buried in Mackay, Queensland has uncovered more than 110 graves in a cemetery in the town, reports Australia’s ABC News.
The Last New Hebrideans is a new 10-episode ni-Vanuatu-made documentary series about the life the people of the kastom villages of the deep interior of Vanuatu’s largest island, Espiritu Santo, who live a traditional lifestyle with little influence from the outside world.
While this may seem idyllic, these villagers say they want more recognition from their own government. Vanuatu may have been independent for 36 years, but for these mountain people, it may as well not exist: they have received none of the government services that people elsewhere in Vanuatu take for granted. As Chief Molitamata from Balakovanua village explains, “since 1980 until today no government worker has ever visited us.”
Here’s a sample from the series:
How many public toilets can claim that they have their very own, dedicated website? Only this one, located in Paunangisu, North Efate! Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »