Fifteen Voice Australia volunteers joined 34 Youth Challenge Vanuatu (YCV) volunteers in a five-week cultural exchange program in Vanuatu in December 2014 and January 2015. The culturally diverse group, which included volunteers from Australia, Vanuatu, New Zealand, Fiji and England, worked together on community-based projects in Santo, Epi and Tanna.The exchange program, managed by YCV and supported by Voice Australia, aims to provide volunteers from all backgrounds with an opportunity to share unique experiences and learn from one another and the communities in which they are based. “YCV provides opportunities under the program for young people in Vanuatu. Our volunteers are able to promote Vanuatu’s cultural diversity, learn about other cultures, build their leadership skills and confidence all while providing a valuable service for rural communities in Vanuatu,” said Shirley Abraham, Acting Director of YCV. The 49 volunteers were split into three groups and sent to rural communities in Santo, Epi and Tanna. They built an aid post in Butmas community in Santo, helped build a storage house for cocoa farmers in Epi, and joined the people of Fatumine community to complete the construction of a classroom at Lowenata Primary School in Tanna. “It is amazing what could be achieved in just five weeks. The international and ni-Vanuatu volunteers, alongside community members, succeeded in building useful facilities to improve the lives of the people in the communities involved,” said Mr Joshua Pierce, a Voice Australia field staff member who joined the volunteers in Epi. YCV has collaborated with its Australian counterpart since 2001 to run cultural exchange volunteer programs in Vanuatu. The next group of international volunteers is due to join a new group of YCV volunteers in the field in June 2015.
SOURCE: Australian High Commission