Monday, November 20, 2006

The Facilities: Infrastructure in Malekula, Vanuatu

Alright, I'm kind of running out of thematic posts at this point in time, but I've gotten a couple of e-mails this week asking about facilities. Before I give you the photographic tour of Amelatin Station aka Lambubu, let me fill you in on a little history (as I understand it):

Lambubu is not a traditional Vanuatu community. In fact, it exists because of the cocoa plantation, and was built as a place for the cocoa plantation workers to live. Most of the infrastructure was built by the company that owned the plantation and established it in the '80s. This is why you'll notice that in photos from Laravet (where my host-family lived) their homes are primarily thatched-hut type dwellings, whereas in Lambubu the buildings are closer to what we would recognize in North America. Our home itself is usually used as a barracks.

At one point in time, Lambubu was quite the modern community with regularly running water (I'm guessing), proper plumbing and toliets, and even electricity. However, either someone new bought the plantation, or else the owners decided to reduce the amount of money being put into it, so these services were taken away from the plantation workers. Now, Lambubu exists as a community with all the modern amenities, but the thing is, none of them work.

This is the main street of Lambubu. On the left, you'll see an overly agressive flea-ridden dog. Coming up on your right, you'll see the Rat Hall. Overhead you'll see power lines, through which no power runs.

On the other main streeet (Lambubu only had two streets that ran perpendicular to one another) you'll see the village Co-Op, where you can buy dried goods. There is no refrigeration, and the Co-Op runs out of normal amenities regularly, though, so it couldn't be counted on to always have toliet paper.

This is Brian. He works at the Co-Op. Everybody say, "Hello Brian, olsem wanem?" Brian pretends that Jo is buying cigarettes for Morsen even though he knows she is really buying them for herself. [Sorry, the program I use to upload photos isn't working properly so the bottom of some of these are chopped off. If you click on to the photos to enlarge them, you'll be able to see the whole things.] Also take note of the people in the background watching us. If you are headed to Vanuatu, be prepared to be watched at all times. Even when you think you're alone--you're not.

Across the road from the Co-Op, you'll find the facilities where they sort the cocoa beans. Er, or something. I'm not entirely sure what they do there, but it smells like chocolate.

Beside the Co-Op is the dispensary, or the nurse's office. She comes every Wednesday. Behind the nurse's office are the grade one through six classrooms. Grade seven and eight are now officially down the street!

This is the kindy. (Kindergarten classroom.)

And this is a palm tree. Yup, it sure is.

Beside the cocoa facilities is the church.

Looking down the street you'll see the volleyball "court."

And this is what it looks like inside the cocoa plantation.

I encourage you to click on this one so you can see the whole thing. On this particular day, Jo and I got lost walking through the plantation to Laravet. Luckily, Jo was carrying a latern and popcorn for her family at the time. If we had gotten lost, at least we would have light after nightfall. We felt very Little House on the Prairie, on this day.

The kindy playground.

The new see-saw.

The very glamourous toliets/showers.

This stall doubled as a toliet and a shower. It didn't flush, of course. There was a tin we used to pour water down it when we wanted to "flush." Some days, if the water didn't come on, and there was no water left in the sink from the day before to pour down, the toliet would get quite "full," so to speak, which is something you don't want happening in the heat, trust me.

And finally, the sinks where we washed and scrubbed our clothes.

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