Recently in Vanuatu Category
As Karen wrote in her last entry, we have a very small staff here at Seacology - only six of us. The result is a pretty efficient group of individuals who all take care of more tasks than what our official titles would reveal. While I spend a little over half my work day processing all things financial, I spend almost about as much time reviewing projects in process and communicating with field representatives and project leaders about the current state of their programs.
One thing I have found fascinating over the years is the frequent request from project partners from widely different cultural regions to have Seacology provide a public meeting space in exchange for their decision to conserve their environment. The design of these buildings is planned at the site by community members in conjunction with hired contractors and either a Seacology field representative or a project leader. This planning process involves a high degree of cultural knowledge of building techniques that are appropriate for the extreme weather in the particular area as well as what makes sense in terms of community size and purpose. (Above right: Niakokokoro, Fiji Center; Left: Sarinbuana, Indonesia Center)
Carvings from various types of wood can be found throughout the world. The four examples from the Seacology office that follow are from Palau, Vanuatu, Samoa and the Solomon Islands.
Traditional Palauan Storyboard: Presented to Seacology by Chief Urong Victor Joseph of Ollei Village, Babeldaob, Palau. Carvings such as this were traditionally found on bai, or the beams of the men's club houses, but under the influence of Japanese artists during the Japanese occupation of Palau, the depiction of these stories was transferred to a smaller portable board.
Seacology has a commitment to stand by our island projects when disasters such as the major tsunami hit the Indian Ocean in December 2004. Thanks to generous donations to Seacology's Tsunami Relief Fund of 2005 Seacology was able to provide relief projects to communities where Seacology had a presence before the event. These projects were intended to complement larger relief organization efforts in affected areas by providing to community members long-term relief in terms of restoring damaged village homes and community centers, or by providing materials and supplies communities said they needed most in order to regain traditional livelihood practices.
One of the updates we received this past week was from Seacology's long time friend and contact, Mr. Anuradha Wickramasinghe, Director of the Small Fishers Federation of Sri Lanka (SFFL). When the 2004 tsunami swept across this area of Sri Lanka, Seacology responded to SFFL with three projects to help community members recover from such a devastating trauma to their lives and community. Seacology repaired the damaged Seacology-funded SFFL Mangrove Resource Center, rebuilt a destroyed fishers' community center and provided sustainable fishing canoes and fishing gear to 88 families in the region, and replaced 15 lost fishing boats for a sustainable fishing cooperative in the area. This last project was just completed in mid-2007 and now each boat is owned and run by three family members who each provide food and income to an average five-member household (above right).