Read the latest news and updates from volunteers, partners, and staff across the moana working collectively towards a world with thriving communities.

 

Honouring Joanne Lentfer: A Remarkable VSA Volunteer and Friend

In the world of volunteering, there are people whose impact reverberates far beyond their work. Joanne Lentfer was one such person, a beacon of kindness and unwavering dedication to serving others. It is with heavy hearts here at VSA that we bid farewell to Joanne, who passed away on January 5th, leaving behind a volunteering legacy in both South Africa and, more recently, Tonga that will forever inspire and uplift.

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From being a Nurse to Running a Nurse-Led Clinic—The Extensive Role of a Volunteer

Meet Jenny Fergus—a VSA volunteer who worked as a Nurse Practitioner Trainer in Vanuatu. Although Jenny was originally recruited to support capacity building, she found herself working beyond her scope of practice, such as seeing and diagnosing patients, and prescribing and dispensing medication. Despite the challenges, Jenny immersed herself in educating patients and families in the clinic setting, upskilling the staff, running a nurse-led clinic, and offering treatment plans. Here’s a peek into Jenny’s everyday life as a volunteer…

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Sustainable Tourism for a Sustainable Pacific—SPTO and its Groundbreaking Initiative

VSA volunteer, Leora Hirsh, worked alongside SPTO as a Grant Proposal Writing Mentor, at their head office in Suva, Fiji. “It was a privilege to share my grant-making knowledge with SPTO, national tourism organisations and small tourism enterprises from across the Pacific. I particularly enjoyed the challenge of adapting my New Zealand experience to suit the Pacific context.”

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Radio Show to a Podcast Series—A Volunteer’s ‘Voice Against Violence’

VSA volunteer Holly Coulter has been working alongside NRL Tonga’s VAV programme as a Community Development Advisor for gender-based violence and mental health. “The primary focus of the VAV program is to create awareness among the Tongan community, including secondary school students, by developing prevention programs to enable them to understand and speak out against gender-based violence.”

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The Multifaceted Role of a UniVol in Vanuatu

Charlotte Brewer works alongside WSB as the Youth Development Assistant at the Northern Care Youth Centre (NCYC)— a Wan Smolbag administered youth centre located in Luganville, Vanuatu. This multifaceted role includes raising awareness among the youth and the community, alongside contributing to the various initiatives undertaken by WSB.

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Children’s Mental Health is Top Priority—Volunteer Returns to Vanuatu

Vila Central Hospital (VCH) is the main referral hospital in Vanuatu and is situated in Port Vila, Efate. VSA volunteer, Diane Edwards, works at the VCH as the Paediatric Mental Health Advocate. Diane started her first 12-month assignment with the VCH in December 2022 and is now returning to Vanuatu to commence yet another assignment at the start of 2024. Here’s a glance at Diane’s recent contributions and achievements at VCH…

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Improving Nursing Leadership & Management Skills to Building Relations in the Community—A Volunteer’s Journey in Bougainville!

Buin Health Centre (BHC) in Bougainville has a team of clinical staff, mostly nurses, who have formal qualifications and experience but have gaps in their skills in aspects of unit management that range from rostering and staff management to monitoring clinical standards and budgeting. VSA volunteer, Sarah Togher, assigned as a Unit Nurse Mentor, is contributing to improving a wide range of nursing management skills required to run a unit within the BHC.

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NRH & its Holistic Approach to Infection Prevention and Control—Volunteer Katie Croom’s Crucial Contribution in the Solomons

VSA volunteer Katie Croom has seven years of nursing experience in New Zealand and Australia, and now she is sharing her skills with the nurses at the National Hospital in Honiara, Solomon Islands. She is part of the Infection Prevention and Control team, a role that varies from maintaining pest control standards to the safe management of needles.

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Savai’i Tourism Goes Digital

The Savai’i Samoa Tourism Authority (SSTA) is an initiative by the Samoan government that was formed to address issues that face the tourism industry in Savai’i. VSA volunteer, Ruby Sparks, is tasked with building a website for the SSTA, where visitors can access information about the services and experiences on offer in Savai’i.

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From Darkness to Light — Helping Restore Sight in Vanuatu

In early 2019, the Fred Hollows Foundation NZ opened the new Vanuatu National Eye Centre in Port Vila following a $2.5 million upgrade and expansion of the previous centre. The upgraded eye clinic and increasing eye care workforce have gone a long way to strengthen eye care services in Vanuatu.

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Post Cyclone Assessment in Vanuatu—Putting Recovery Plans into Action!

As of 10 March 2023, the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) in Port Vila reported some 251,346 people (about 80% of the population) and 30,000 households in all six provinces in Vanuatu had been exposed to the impacts of the cyclones. Authorities are assessing the full extent of damages.

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Family Planning to Reproductive Health—Samoa Reaches Out to its Youth!

Grace works as a Youth Programme Mentor at Samoa’s Family Health Association (SFHA), whose mandate is to deliver family planning and reproductive health services. Grace’s role is to help the SFHA recruit youth for its volunteer committee to run outreach programmes across Samoa.

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Vanuatu’s World War II Museum—Beyond Preserving the War History to Equipping Local Schools with Resources

Ask Miranda Williamson what her favourite part of living and working in Vanuatu is and she has no hesitation. “Storian,” she says.
It’s a term that’s particular to the people of her adopted home, where Miranda has taken a role as Museum Promotions and Archivist Advisor with the South Pacific World War II Museum, based in Luganville.

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Improving Dental Services in Vanuatu—One Step at a Time!

It’s a “second-time lucky” case for Marlborough couple, dental therapist Andrea Carr and her husband, David Hart, who have restarted their volunteering adventures in Vanuatu after the Covid pandemic scuppered David’s first assignment.

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VSAs Contribution in the Republic of Kiribati

Located in the central Pacific Ocean, Kiribati consists of 33 coral islands making it the largest coral atoll in the world and the only country to cross all four hemispheres! Let’s take a look at this ‘Christmas Island’ known for its diverse culture and incredible guest hospitality.

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VSA Celebrates 60 Years in Samoa

­This year marked the important milestone of reaching 60 years of the Samoan volunteering programme.

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VSAs Contribution in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville

Let’s take a look at the island that’s surrounded by luminous turquoise blue lagoons—the Autonomous Region of Bougainville (ARoB)

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From being a VSA child to a VSA staff

The inspiring story of the mother-son duo and their journeys with VSA 34 years ago, a mother took a step that would not only have…

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Generosity and reciprocity in the Cooks

Sue Marshall is an Inclusive Education Advisor from Te Awahou (Foxton) and her second assignment with VSA took her to Rarotonga. Here, she worked with the Cook Islands Ministry of Education (Maraurau o te Pae Api’i’) supporting services for inclusive education.

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Memory lane for Graham

Recently Graham Gibbs returned to volunteer again after 50 years to support an archive project as part of our work to capture the history of VSA volunteering. We asked Graham to let us know his thoughts and wanted to share them with you.

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