YACHTING WORLD JULY 2014: MAKING A DIFFERENCE
If you enjoy cruising off the beaten path, there are many ways you can make a positive impact on the places that you visit. John Neal explains how. Read the full article here.
HELP US MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THREE ISOLATED ISLAND SCHOOLS IN VANUATU
We're rarely seen parents, village elders and young, dedicated schoolteachers more involved than in the three villages on Aniytum, Tanna and Erromango we delivered books and school supplies to during LEG 5-2012.
The headmasters at Achawhat and Potnarvin both have asked if we could help them in their efforts to establish the first-ever school libraries in their isolated villages. In addition, they have asked for more simple school supplies including pens, pencils, exercise books, world atlas, dictionaries, crayons, marking pens, scissors - just any typical school supplies.
At their request, we are looking for donations of children's books from age 5-15. Used books are fine, and we will be asking each 2013 expedition member if they can help by bringing books that we will ship them on their flight to join us.
Special appreciation goes to anyone in New Zealand who can help supply books as these won't need to be carried down from the States. We have funds set aside for purchase if anyone finds particularly good sources.
Thank you, John, Amanda and the teachers, children and parents of these villages.
Leg 4, 2006
Mahina Tiare's expedition members delivered requested school supplies for the third time to Mormake Tupa, in Panama's San Blas Islands. For the first time we brought reading glasses which proved to be a big hit with the Kuna women who sew molas at night by kerosene lantern light, as well as several school teachers in nearby Rio Sidra. Reading glasses are welcome in many less developed cruising areas worldwide.
Here's an excerpt from our Expedition Update:
John and Ross chatting with
Venacio took us straight to the school where we delivered school supplies to the headmaster. The school was having a special fiesta with lots of races and competition in the main courtyard as celebration of an international "No Smoking" day. When the headmaster asked for something with the boat name and email address, he looked at the boat notecard that has a drawing of MT on it and suddenly remembered their previous visit. His big smile said it all, the supplies were much appreciated. He said school supplies of any kind (paper, blank lesson books, pens, pencils, construction paper, scissors, glue, etc) would always be a tremendous help and we promised to get the word out to other yachties, so if you are reading this and planning on sailing your own boat to the San Blas, please do your part. The anchorage
Amanda giving glasses to the sayla
off Venacio Restrepo's house (next door to the school) is: 09 27.180 N, 078 51.200 W:
Amanda passed reading glasses out to several of the older women who were quick to try threading a needle to see which glasses strength worked best. Lore said one women nearly started crying, saying that her eyesight hadn't allowed her to sew molas recently but now with glasses she could earn a living again.
Our last stop was Venacio's family home where one of his sister's was making a wini; a beaded leg or arm wrapping. His others sister quietly showed off their exquisite molas and Venacio's 79 year old father was busy weaving an intricate basket. This is a family of artists!
After saying goodbye, we motored two miles away to the island of Rio Sidra to find the clinic. On the way through the village, the man who was leading us took us by the very busy school, introducing us to the six teachers (for 290 children). When we said we were looking for the clinic so we could donate the reading glasses, nearly all of the teachers lit up, and they had a lot of fun trying to read with the different strengths of glasses before finding a pair that worked for them.
We did find a very tidy-looking clinic and donated the bulk of the glasses to Hector, who worked there. We have a big thanks to Skip Crilly, of our Leg 3 crew who purchased several hundred pairs of glasses from a couple of different close out wholesalers he found on the internet. A special thanks goes to Lori Abrahams-Dana from Leg 2 who also gave a generous donation that we used for purchasing some of the school supplies.
Leg 7, 2004
Mahina Tiare's crew donate new encyclopedias, dictionaries, calculators, textbooks, to Vunisei District School, Kadavu, Fiji.
We also delivered six large boxes of school books kindly donated by the Kinoole Street Church, Hilo, Hawaii and shipped through Diane at Pago Pago Seafarers Center.
If you are sailing to Fiji on your own boat and want to collect and deliver school supplies to this very special school, contact me and I will relay directions: firstname.lastname@example.org.
David Potter donates dictionaries
School Children Singing
Boys perform warrior dance for crew
Girls dancing Meke
Our next project will be collecting school supplies for the Kuna Indians of the San Blas Islands in 2007.
Leg 6, 2003
Roger Campbell: Our third day at Banan Bay was dental clinic day. Our crew walked to the clinic in the next village, 20 minutes away, loaded with toothbrushes and toothpaste to distribute. When we arrived, there was already lineup as the message that we would be conducting a dental clinic had spread.
Peter, the first in line had a toothache so painful that he was willing to have it removed without anesthetic. By the end of the morning we had checked around 20 people.
Dental team extracting a tooth
Villages intrigued with the outdoor dental clinic
Teeth cleaning instructions
Crew donating toothbrushes and toothpaste to the clinic staff
Roger: Over the SSB Namba Net covering Vanuatu waters, John had put out the work that there would be a large kastum dance at 1530 Monday afternoon, inviting any boats in the area to join us. We hoped another boat or two would arrive, and were surprised when we returned to the village to see eight other boats and learn a total of 30 yachties would be attending the dances. At 1500 vatu ($12US) each, this would provide one of the few sources of cash income, to be shared amongst the villagers at the end of their financial year.
Leg 5 2003
Kata Revono of Daku Village Kaduvu, Fiji and villages receiving enough toothbrushes for all Vunisei school children. Special thanks to Cam Campbell, Leg 1, 2003 for supplying toothbrushes.
240lbs of school text books delivered to Vunisei school courtesy of Pago Pago Seafarers Center and Kinoole Street Church, Hilo, Hawaii
Leg 4 2002
Tom Zacher, Leg 4-2002 expedition member performing dental
exams on isolated Palmerston Island, population 60
Donating more school supplies, Dec. 2001
Donating school supplies, San Blas Islands, May 2000
Ginny Harvey presents Soso Village school teachers with
new children schoolbooks for the library. August 1998
Mahina Tiare and expedition members were involved
in bringing requested medical and dental supplies to the isolated
Northern Cook Islands again in 1997. Since meeting Dr. Losacker
in the Northern Cook Islands in 1982, we have been able to bring
him to some of the most isolated islands where he has been conducting
medical and dental surveys and treatment.
This year Dr. Losacker sailed aboard Mahina Tiare from Penrhyn
to Manihiki and we were able to supply toothbrushes to each of
the children on those islands, thanks to the generosity of Dr.
Cheryl Rice, (Legs 1-'94 and 6-'97).
Dr. Losacker and John Neal delivering toothbrushes to Penrhyn
Island to teachers and children. Leg 4-1997.
Dr. Losacker giving medical and dental exams to Cook island
children. Leg-4 1997.
On Leg 3-'98 we hope to be able to again take Dr. Losacker
to the isolated islands which rarely see doctors.
Cheryl Rice, a dentist supplying an entire school in Fiji
with toothbrushes. Expedition 6, log entry #12.
Thoughts on contacts with local people in less-developed areas
of the world:
Some of the areas where you may cruise will be lacking in
basic health care. Where there are locally-trained nurses and
doctors they often are very short on basic medical supplies.
As a result of requests from nurses on isolated islands we've
visited, we've returned with medical supplies they requested
including gauze dressings and roller gauze, tropical antiseptic
scrubbing solutions such as Betadine, topical antibiotic cream
and ointment, oral antibiotics, siladene burn ointment and hydrogen
peroxide. It's best to give supplies and medication to local
nurses or doctors to dispense. Choose supplies that have the
longest shelf life and don't require refrigeration. Bring knowledge.
Take standard and advanced first aid classes before departing
on your cruise. Carry copies of Where There Is No Doctor
and Where There Is No Dentist with you. Consider inviting
a doctor from home to come and cruise with you for a week or
two when you are cruising in a "high need" area away
from major ports. When you get your physical examination and
prescriptions for your ship's medicine chest, ask your family
doctor for any physician's samples they would like to donate.
Think about how you can help or teach the local people. Some
ways that we've observed cruisers making a positive contribution
include helping design and build rainwater collection and storage
systems, teaching locals how to build boats and repair outboard
engines, and repairing broken radios and cassette players. If
you have medical or dental skills, by all means volunteer to
assist or teach local nurses and doctors. Teachers (or non-teachers)
may be asked to speak at schools to tell the children what like
in North America or Europe is like. This is your chance to dispel
some of the myths perpetrated by Rambo and Dallas. Bring pictures
and picture books of where you lived "on land", and
photos of your family "back home". Communication is
important, the returns from learning how to very basically communicate
in the local language far outweigh the amount of effort involved.
If you are cruising with children, you'll find that they have
few inhibitions about meeting kids of different cultures and
will open many doors for you.
Long Term Projects
Think about long-term, far-reaching projects that could start
during or after your cruise. Examples range from the 160' schooner
"Tole Mour" and the 70' aluminum catamaran ketch "Canvasback"
(both volunteer training/hospital ships started by ex-cruisers)
to an educational video lending library in Tonga which was started
and financed by a cruiser who was disappointed in the violent
and sexist videos locally available.
Chances are that you will want to reciprocate the generosity
of local people that you meet while cruising. Try to give gifts
that will leave positive feelings behind. Some gifts that we've
found were welcome included children's clothing, vegetable seeds,
fish hooks and line, and a Polaroid print of the whole family.
If someone aboard is artistic, a small sketch of their village
or home is a lasting memory. Have you children cruising with
you? Involve them with the project. We've left signed Yacht and
Visitor Log Books at several villages, giving the locals a way
of remembering visitors. Give gifts to persons or families who
have been especially kind or helpful. Passing out gifts indiscriminately
makes the locals think that all cruisers are like Santa Claus.
They may then come to expect to demand gifts from cruisers that
follow. If a family has invited you home for a meal, why not
invite them out to your boat for juice and popcorn or dinner,
or maybe out for a day sail?
The benefits of making a positive contribution to the areas
that you visit are many. You will discover a sense of purpose
to your cruise, something which escapes many cruisers. Your experiences
in the places you visit will be more intense, and the local people
will be much more open to you if they know that you are there
to help and learn, not just to take pictures, barter for woodcarvings
or shells, then leave your rubbish and then sail on to the next
Let us know your ideas of positive contributions cruisers