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WHY we need you in Vanuatu
HOW can you help?
WHAT can you do?
Why Involvement Volunteers International?
PROJECT NAME: NUTRITION & PUBLIC HEALTH
LOCATION: PORT VILLA & SURROUNDING ISLANDS
START DATES: 05 JAN 2020, 21 JUN 2020, 08 OCT 2020
ACCOMMODATION: VOLUNTEER HOUSE
MIN DURATION: 2 WEEKS
MIN AGE: 16+
SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS: MEDICAL, NUTRITION & HEALTH STUDENTS OR QUALIFIED PROFESSIONALS
The Pacific Island countries, including Vanuatu have some of the highest rates of diabetes in the entire world. Results from health surveys indicate diabetes rates as high as 47% in certain communities, but on average between 15 – 25% of the population. Some pacific island countries have the highest death rate from diabetes in the world. With neighboring Australia at approx 5%, there is a significant need for nutritional education and healthcare support in Vanuatu.
Obesity and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are placing a huge social, economical and emotional load on the people of Vanuatu.
IVI’s nutrition and public health outreach cater to students and graduates in the field of nutrition, dietetics, holistic healthcare, nursing, physiotherapy & medicine. You’ll participate in an outreach program designed to provide free healthcare education for communities which generally lack access to healthcare services.
Working alongside a qualified practitioner from Australia, the aim of the outreach project is health promotion & free assessments in villages, corporate businesses, schools & community centers to increase the knowledge about nutrition and the effect of physical activity in the prevention of obesity and development of NCD’s.
In teams of 4 to 8, you will have endorsement from the Ministry of Health Vanuatu to perform free health checks for villagers and/or corporate staff. Monday will be orientation day in Port Villa. The team will show you around including the local fruit market, walk through town, show banks, supermarket and teach some basic Bislama phrases.
During the program, you may also be involved in preparing educational talks on various topics such as the dangers of sugar and other disease causing issues. You will have the opportunity to conduct in depth health screenings like blood pressure checks, blood glucose level tests and waist to hip ratios measurement.
Diet and Lifestyle Observations in Vanuatu
- Population of Vanuatu 280,000 and most of the population of Vanuatu is rural, although Port Vila and Luganville have sizable populations. Port Vila is the largest city and capital with a population of 45,000, accounting for 19% of the country’s total population.
- Average income 24,000VUV to 33,000VUV p/month. To feed a family of 6 cost for food is 5000VUV p/week. Most families have on average 4 children.
- Local foods consumed in high amounts – Breakfast – Bread/butter/jam/eggs/mayonnaise.
- Lunch – Huge (OMG!) servings rice with fish, pork, chicken or beef and mashed Casava and cabbage salad (the salad is actually really good + reef fish yum!)
- Dinner – repeat. Fruit/snacks – Coconuts, Pineapple, Papaya, Apple, Soursop, Watermelon, Peanuts, Banana chips (fried), Cassava chips (fried), Vanuatu Almonds (they are huge and they fry them in Veg oil and sugar), Bread with peanut batter and jam together. Vegetables in season I noted at market – Island cabbage, Cassava, Potato, Carrot, Lettuce, Eggplant and Green Beans.
- Observations Diet and Lifestyle – Portions are at least 4 x the recommended size with rice 70% of weight on plate. The local women do not drive and catch the bus (minivans) and walk a lot. High % of women 33 years+ tend to be overweight, with large bloated stomachs (fat appeared to be visceral).
- Traditional living arrangements in that Men provide income and many women stay at home to raise family and cook/clean, men and women drink a lot of coconut water and possibly not enough water given the climate. Unsure of contraceptive methods but most families have 4+ children.
- Drink – Alcohol usually on weekend only due to cost, Lots of black tea with sugar and biscuits.
- Gifts – Books, Toothbrushes, floss, paper, hand sanitiser (The local team have a no sweets/chocolate policy due to the excess sugar consumption).
Port Vila, the capital and main hub of Vanuatu is situated on Efate island. The architecture has mainly french with the population quite multicultural including ni-Vanuatu, Chinese, Vietnamese, British and French. Port Vila has all the standard facilities you’d expect from a commercial hub such as hospitals, shopping districts (note Vanuatu is a tax haven so duty free!), sports stadium, hotels, casino, museums and cultural centers. The town is a great base for divers who come for the trips to Mele Cascades, a large rain forest water fall with rock pools and incredible scenery. As the commercial hub tourism plays an important role, however it does not feel ‘touristy’ especially in the areas where IVI services. Here you can get to know the locals and truly experience the authentic lifestyle from outside of the tourist resorts.
– Conducting individual and group consultations
– Remote island healthcare education
– Corporate health
– Children’s health & education
– Identifying protein deficiency among school kids
– Assisting in the prescription of natural protocols
– Providing educational assistance and local talks (if desired)
– Helping build nutrition and diabetes awareness campaigns
– Designing fitness and exercise programs
– Village exercise programs
– General healthy living programs.
Food & Accommodation
Accommodation is in a dedicated house very close to the beach! Volunteers will share a bedroom with up to 2-4 persons per room (single gender rooms). There is WiFi included in public areas, laundry facilities (at small additional fee), lockable rooms, cold/warm showers, bed linen, mosquito protection and fans included. Volunteers are requested to bring their own towel. Living with other volunteers in a dormitory-style house is heaps of fun and a great way to meet like minded travelers. The volunteer house is in close proximity to a basic supermarkets, ATM, fresh fruit and vegetable stands, petrol stations and bus stop.
*For couples or those wanting more privacy, private rooms in the volunteer house are available for an additional US$150 per week, subject to availability.
*You will be expected to clean up after yourself, and to play your part to keep the accommodation neat and tidy.
3 meals a day on weekdays and 2 meals a day on weekends will be provided for the duration of your placement. Food will be mainly authentic to the local culture which includes plenty of chicken dishes, coconut based curries, dhal (lentils), fresh fish, saffron rice and tropical fruits. Meals are served at your home stay each day or at the project site. There is also filtered water available at the volunteer center. Bottled water is also readily available in Vanuatu.
*If you have any special dietary requirements, please let us know when you apply for the program so we can make arrangements for you.
- Nutrition & Public Health Outreach
1 Week - N/A
2 Weeks - $1150
1 Day Orientation
24/7 In-Country Support
Project Materials & Equipment
Pre-departure Expert Advice
Preperation Tools & Checklists
Certificate of Completion
Students studying in the discipline of health science, physiotherapy & related fields and qualified nurses, therapists, nutritionists, naturopaths, dietitians & allied health professionals. A qualified practitioner from Australia will be available to support and guide you during the program. Volunteers without qualifications in this field are still encouraged to apply and depending on your desire and experience, you may be accepted into the program.
- Accommodation (Home Stays – Sharing with other volunteers)
- 2 meals p/day (Breakfast & Dinner)
- Arrival Airport transfer to Canggu
- Return transfers from from Canggu to Seraya
- In-country qualified healthcare practitioner coordinator
- ‘Love our earth’ Bali survival kit (what’s in it? It’s a surprise!)
- Filtered drinking water, coffee & tea daily
- Full day orientation & training + cultural sightseeing
- In country 24/7 coordination & emergency assistance
- Fundraising support
- University course credits (where applicable)
- Certificate of Completion
- Travel Insurance
- Tours, Souvenirs & spending money
An optional one week orientation is a great way to prepare yourself better for the coming weeks where you will be more engaged with the local communities. Learn more about the culture of Vanuatu including a city tour and visits to interesting locations. You’ll have the opportunity to learn the local language, take Melanesian cooking classes, visit the blue lagoon and spend time being a tourist before your volunteer experience begins. The orientation weeks start on the first Monday of every month with two in June & July.
An arrival airport transfer is included for pick-ups on Sundays. If arriving on other days, you’ll need to make your own way to the placement. We’ll provide instructions for this and will assist you. If arriving on the Saturday, you’ll need to book an extra nights accommodation in advance at a cost of US$50 p/night including meals. Local travel to the projects and other sites is also included in the cost of the program.
Each day can vary. There are plenty of areas you can choose to get involved in. Some of the work you will be doing will be dependant on your prior skill level and qualifications. You can help with village health checks or create information pamflets/ healthy eating and exercise programs.
Weekends are always free for relaxing or sightseeing of your choice. Our team on the ground will help you organize additional trips at local rates! There’s heaps of things to see and do in Vanuatu, from museums and cultural centers to island hopping, hiking, water sports like snorkeling, diving, boating and fishing etc.
Appropriate dress must be worn, particually for women. No short skirts or shorts, tshirts or sheer clothing. This includes having shouders and legs covered. Long skirts/ sarongs will be need for village visits.
Covered in tropical rain forests, mountains and volcanoes, Vanuatu is a stunning group of 88 islands in the South Pacific. With the vast majority of islands uninhabited, the total population stands at approx 250,000. With the Solomon islands to the north, Fiji in the east and New Caledonia to the south, Vanuatu is known for it’s mostly volcanic archipelago, incredible diving, stunning scenery, warm and friendly hospitality and laid back rural lifestyle with calm atmosphere.
For most in Vanuatu, farming is the main source of income, hence significant economic issues exist in most parts of the country. With the main export crops consisting of beef, timber, copra, squash and cocao, many crops are highly influenced by local weather and cyclone damage and flooding are common. Tourism is becoming a major component of the local economy however there is not the strong tourism undertone that you would find in Fiji for example. It’s much more low key.
Very few employment activities exist outside the towns and regional government centers. Most villages outside Port Vila (the capital) have no electricity, and access to piped water is a luxury in many parts. Local traditions are strong and have been heavily influenced by colonization by the British and French. Christianity is the main religion practiced.
Vanuatu is warm year round and has a tropical/ sub tropical climate.
Novemeber to March is summer, which has an average temperature of 28 degrees. This brings hot, humid and rainy weather, as well as cyclones. Most of the resorts are in the South of the island, due to it’s cooler climate, less rainfall and less chance of extreme waether.
Winter is from April to October, with much cooler temperatures of around 23 degrees. The sea is warm all year round- perfect for swimming!
Vanuatu is recognized as one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world. Dances, ceremonies, artistic styles, authority status, and cultural traditions can vary from island to island and district to district. The locals are so friendly and welcoming to tourists. Within villages, tribal alliances are still intact and money does not play a significant role in their daily lives. The pace and lifestyle is also very laid back. Do not worry too much about this, enjoy the island time!
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Check out this amazing blog with step by step info on how to raise funds for your overseas volunteer experience to help maximize your impact abroad. Guide to Fundraising