Last night, some guys from my church held an information night for another mission trip to Vanuatu. It was really encouraging to hear about the work they did in two previous trips; they worked on projects like laying water pipes to get fresh water to villages where the nearest clean water was a kilometre walk down a steep hill to the river, building a school in an area where the “mixed island”/”unwanted” people live, and building a church.
It was also great to hear from a missionary from Vanuatu whose father started up a non-profit aid organisation called Camp Shining Light, to help communities have access to clean water and more secure buildings. He shared stories from a big kids’ event they held for one thousand children. Through that event, some kids with disabilities were included and involved. A new school was built for them and the people are starting to be educated about disabilities.
I was blown away by the impact that these events and projects have had on the communities in Vanuatu. People with disabilities are now seen as a people group (whereas they were not recognised before and were often prevented from living to an age where they become a significant burden on the community), and the work that has been done on the various projects has increased the government’s involvement and support of those areas.
Vanuatu is largely a Christian nation, though not all understand what it means to be a Christian. Anyone who goes over with the team is encouraged to find out about Christianity through the “Life of Jesus” course being run through our church. Not only does this provide an opportunity to understand the culture they will be heading into, but for their own sake as they consider the claims of Jesus.
There is much more to be done and the team has many more projects in mind and in planning stages. They are planning to send another team over in August 2013 and will be raising money and looking for volunteers (particularly tradesmen and medical professionals) to go over with them. A survey of the sites is happening this week to get a better idea of what is required.