Published on 14th December 2010
Featuring our volunteers returning in December.
Anne likens her VSA assignment experience as a nurse trainer with the Binh Dinh Department as “a bit like having a baby. You can read all the books, but it’s not until you have the baby that you really know what it’s like”.
During her time at the hospital in Binh Dinh, Anne was able to support colleagues working in the noisy and often chaotic neonatal unit to shift their thinking about allowing family members to assist in the care and monitoring of babies. Previously, family members were not allowed near the unit, but a change of emphasis and focus on training resulted in families supporting nursing staff, with often a member of the family being present 24 hours a day.
Anne loves how now the nurses take great pride in their unit, the babies are less stressed, incubators are covered to keep out noise and bright lights and survival rates have improved. As Anne says: “The nurses now absolutely own the process because they see the value in the changes that have happened. And families now know how to handle and care for their premature babies”.
A month back in New Zealand and Anne is living in Palmerston North and taking it easy for a while, doing some examination supervision work at NCEA.
Newly returned volunteers, Paul and Julie, didn’t hang around New Zealand for long. They have headed off to Vanuatu to work with Live and Learn (Paul’s partner organisation during his time on assignment in PNG) on a seven month contract focusing on environmental education. Supported by AusAid, Paul will be helping small enterprises work on tasks such as installing composting toilets.
During his time at Live and Learn in PNG, Paul and his colleagues were able to undertake a small programme in Minda community to install pit toilets, save water and set up an education programme. The programme supplied around 350 people in an isolated community with only boat access to town. In true VSA skill-sharing style, Paul trained ‘plumbers’ in the community to install the toilets and undertake ongoing maintenance.
Paul’s wife Julie kept busy with voluntary work for a sustainable logging company, ForCert, as well as teaching local women how to crochet and knit as a possible extra income to vegetable growing.
During his two year stint as Farm Business Adviser at PNG’s University of Natural Resources and Environment, Bill reckons he must have worked with pretty much all 50 employees on the university farm. His main role was to work with the farm manager and technical officers to help improve processes and increase efficiency but this often meant getting stuck in to jobs at hand. These included treating sick goats, introducing ducks as an alternative to chickens for villagers, planting crops, informally teaching English and even acting as temporary rugby union coach for a bunch of keen university students.
While there, Bill was able to save Lorna the goat from certain death by amputating her badly broken leg and dressing it with VSA’s very own medical kit. Thanks to him, Lorna was able to wean her two small kids. Sadly, the story doesn’t end well. She was stolen a few weeks’ later and never seen again.
Now back on their farm in Oamaru, Bill and Shirley are in no hurry to decide what they will do next. Bill may be interested in short term volunteering with VSA in the future.
Landscaper and horticulturalist, Warren Nash, spent his assignment with partner organisation Solo Enviro Beautification, supporting and training colleagues who maintained the parks, gardens, roundabouts and medium strips in and around the capital Honiara.
One great project Warren managed to get off the ground was the production of good quality compost using waste from neighbouring industries. The compost was used in Solo’s nurseries as well as sold on to other parties, generating additional income for the organisation. Previously, dirt was dug out of the hillside to use in the nursery.
Local industries were more than keen to give their waste for free. Woodchips, sawdust from the local timber yard, free chicken manure, green cuttings from the council and waste from the local brewery were all thrown into the compost mix.
The project has been extremely successful, reducing the amount of rubbish dumped at Honiara’s main tip and that dumped at sea by the local brewery.
Currently Warren has several landscaping jobs lined up and is in the process of buying a house in Golden Bay.
Chris was working for a year with his partner organisation, Bougainville Earthworks Limited as a Management Adviser helping them review business processes and make changes as necessary. In that time he successfully worked with colleagues to enable them to change the business focus and obtain a contract to build a classroom block at Arawa High School and a large contract with Kitano Construction, the company tasked with rebuilding 15 bridges between Arawa and Buka.
Even though she wasn't a VSA volunteer, Chris' wife, Elaine, a Registered Nurse who accompanied him on assignment volunteered at the Arawa Health Centre in the Maternal and Child Health Clinic and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Of her and Chris's time there Elaine said: "Just being there, you don't feel like you are doing much but actually 'just being there' makes a difference."
Now back in New Zealand, Chris and Elaine aren't planning on heading out again with VSA at this time. They have moved into a new home in Napier and are looking forward to catching up with friends and family and slowly easing themselves back into their Kiwi life.
The Division of Lands & Physical Planning where Kirsten worked as a Physical Planner had only nine staff so her assignment included many roles, such as preparing the Annual and Corporate Plans and reviewing many other plans and policy documents.
Just as she left Bougainville, the Government was finalising arrangements to have its own Planning Board to allow it to make decisions about land uses in Bougainville, rather than wait on Port Moresby staff.
Kirsten enjoyed accompanying the Division's Lands Officers on a series of land workshops throughout the region gathering ideas and views at village level about land usage, natural resources and villagers’ future use concerns. These workshops were very well attended with well over 200 villagers coming along to some. As Kirsten says: “In Bougainville, everyone owns land and so they all have strong feelings about how it is used, and who by.”
Now back in New Zealand, Kirsten is waiting to reclaim her own piece of Wellington land once tenants move out of her house. She will be working at the Ministry for the Environment for the next few months.
Tessa was a UniVol who returned in September after working in Cambodia as a Childcare Worker with the Rural Economic Development Association (REDA).
Arnold was a Maintenance Adviser with the Arch Diocese of Rabaul (St Mary's Hospital).
Tony worked with Imvomvo in South Africa as a Sport Development Adviser and came back to New Zealand in September following a one year assignment.
Sophie worked with the Cambodian Centre for the Protection of the Children's Rights (CCPCR) as a Youth Development Programme Worker on VSA’s UniVol programme. She returns to New Zealand later this month.
Ken spent two years with the Institute of Foreign Affairs as an English Language Teacher. Ken is our last volunteer to work in The Lao PDR.
Peter worked as a Marine Resource Management Adviser with the Binh Dinh Department of Agriculture and Rural Development on a two year assignment.
Tony spent two years on assignment as a Business College Adviser – IT with Kokopo Business College.
Alice comes back later this month after spending 10 months as a Special Needs Programme Assistant with Callan Disability Services on VSA’s UniVol programme.
Read Alice's Project Friendship blog
Susan worked as a Legal Adviser with the Nazerath Rehabilitation Centre and was accompanied by husband Tony.
Jane was working as HR Systems Adviser with the Human Resource Development Divison and was accompanied by partner, Doug Buchan.
Ron has just returned from a short-term assignment in Samoa, working as a Business Development Adviser with the Small Business Enterprise Centre (SBEC).
Andrew was working as a TVET Instructor with the Tokelau Department of Education.
Arlene was a Pre School Coordinator (Urban Santo) with the Vanuatu Eli Jaelhud Asosiesen (VEJA).
Emily was a Youth Advisor with Wan Smolbag Theatre on VSA's UniVol programme.
Stephanie was a Youth Advisor with Wan Smolbag Theatre on VSA's UniVol programme.
Don was working as Farm Support Association Assistant with the Farm Support Association. He was accompanied by partner, Helen Ainsworth
Michelle was a Youth Advisor with Wan Smolbag Theatre on VSA's UniVol programme.
Sam worked as a Youth Programmes Adviser (Rugby) with Imvomvo Training and Management Services on VSA's UniVol programme.
Anna worked as a Monitoring and Evaluation Officer with Restless Development.
Nicholas was Communication and Project Writing Adviser with Malezi AIDS Care Awareness Organisation.
Lindsay worked as Maintenance Foreman with the Macha Mission Hospital.