On Pele Island, water is a precious substance. The women collect the water from wells linked to a natural underground water supply. I decided to help a lady named Do collect water for her family’s use. I also helped Anna draw some water for the bungalow we were staying in. We used it for washing and flushing the toilet. It was quite difficult to do but having the chance to fetch the water was awesome. To be able to experience the way the islanders live was beyond amazing.
Not only water, but food is very cherished on Pele. When Cyclone Pam came through Pele in 2015, it destroyed a lot of things including homes and gardens. Only the root crops such as manioc survived and was survival food for months after the cyclone. Now the coconut and banana trees have grown back and are ready for eating. We walked through Anna’s garden and found perfectly good coconuts on the ground. Like the people of Vanuatu on Pele, I carried a coconut on my head, well I tried to anyway. When I collected water and tried to carry a coconut on my head, it gave me a sense that theirs is an open culture, that they were ready to share with all.
From this experience on Pele, I’ve learnt that, a lot of the time, many people take food and water for granted. I don’t think some people realise how important food and water is. A lot of people waste a lot of food and water, but, the people on Pele don’t waste a drop of water or a spoonful of rice. In our society, we take and take all the time and we don’t really give anything back. By spending time on Pele, we were giving. By spending time with the children and living their way, we were also giving. The exchange of gifts and culture, having their gifts in our embrace is a sign of gratitude for each other. “I+I=1= unity” we were told.
In the farewell ceremony, I gave a gift, from my own Aboriginal culture. To my host Anna, I gave a handwoven basket and two boomerangs made by my mum and stepdad. I was given a beautiful handwoven bag, made by Anna. It was important that we shared our cultures because I don’t get to do that often. Being able to share my culture with people from another culture was an amazing experience.
To read more about student’s experiences on their trip to Vanuatu, please click the following link:https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4fd16fa15a7eac1a3e4e390cb/files/fe5fb0ca-cec4-43c2-86b9-dab257196b33/zine_vanuatu.docx