To those who plant the seeds of change

In 2011 the Donovan family paid another visit to Vanuatu and visited JUC's friends on Lelepa.  Andrew Donovan filed this account.....

Since our visit to Vanuatu in October 2008, there have been a lot of major changes not only on Lelepa Island, but also on mainland Efate, the main island of the Vanuatu group.

The Millennium Road is now complete – a tar sealed road around Efate – speed limit is 80km/h with a 30km/h limit through the villages – a lot of the Villages aren’t used to seeing traffic driving through.

Side roads haven’t been sealed to help keep the speed of vehicles down and also to reduce the amount of traffic.


On Sunday, we went to Church on Lelepa – the Island itself still looks much the same, but life has changed.


The Church is looking nearly as good as it did on the day it was dedicated in October 2008.

A Generator House has been built to provide secure storage for the Church Generator

The Church is well used for community events, and the Island is thriving – the opening of the new Millennium Road has bought Lelepa to the world and locals are now travelling to and from Port Vila every day to work, rather than on a weekly basis, or not all.

There is also a new Resort called ‘The Havana” which is at Point Samoa, a little further along the Millennium road from the Lelepa landing, and there are lot of people from Lelepa working there – including Manses, who is a Chef.  The Owner of The Havana is an Australian ex-pat, and she was telling me that Manses is P&O trained – it turns out that Manses spent the 2010/11 summer working on the P&O ship Pacific Dawn – the same ship that Mum and Dad had a week on in January 2011.  They did a tour of the Galley and possibly saw Manses, but wouldn’t have known who he was.  Manses had a few trips to Wellington during the 2010/11 Cruise season, and since he had lost our contact details, he spent his days in Wellington walking the CBD hoping to bump into one of us and he’s hoping to spend the 2011/12 cruise season with P&O again, so I will spend lunchtimes walking in the CBD in case Manses happens to be in town – I did give him my contact details so he can contact me when he’s in town.

After Church, we were hosted for lunch by Elder Marcia, and then we met up with Edward Reuben, who hosted us in 2008.

Edward told us of the passing of Sevo Kalotiti’s younger brother, Douglas, at the end of April.  Douglas was 42, and had not long returned from a trip to Canada, where he had presented Vanuatu’s successful application to UNESCO for Chief Roi Mata’s Domain to be recognised as a World Heritage Site, and had just setup a new tour company called ‘Chief Roi Mata’s Domain Cultural Tours’.  Douglas was also convenor of the Church Building Committee – A great Totara has Fallen.

 In talking with Sevo, he said the completion of the Church is like a great weight being lifted off their shoulders and they are forever grateful for the assistance and support we’ve given them.

Joel 2:28 – “Your old Men will have dreams, your young Men will have visions”, and I feel that this is certainly true on Lelepa – they are planning to build a Hall adjacent to the Church for Church functions.  The following week, there was to be a meeting to discuss an offer from an Australian group to assist with the digging of a water well.  The American solders dug a well during World War II, but it wasn’t deep enough and dried up, and the decision has to be made whether or not to deepen this well, or dig a fresh one.

There has also been a change to Business Law in Vanuatu, and this means that the shop on Lelepa will be re-opening, and will sell more Grocery items than before.

Crafts from Lelepa can be found for sale at a market stall in Port Vila – a Lady from Port Vila runs the stall and sells on behalf of a few Villages around Vanuatu – The Millennium Road has helped open up this opportunity.

 In 2005, when Debbie first suggested we visit Vanuatu and we began our Vanuatu Venture, I don’t think we could have ever imaged the impact that we have had on the village of Natapo on the Island of Lelepa – to quote Sevo “To Thank You is not enough”.

 To all those people who were involved in our Vanuatu Venture – those who were part of the travelling group, those who helped organise the KATS evening, sold tickets and helped fund raise, those people who purchased a pew and those who saw us off at the Airport and met us on our return from our 3 trips, Tank Yu Tumas – Thank You.  You have all helped plant the seeds of change!

 No trip to Vanuatu would be complete without me getting sick, and our trip in May was no exception, but I find myself saying “Vanuatu, Lu Kim Yu Or” – “Vanuatu, see you soon”!