Father Nicholson Worek is 71 years old, and comes from Mota Lava Island in the Banks region of Vanuatu. He left his home several months ago for the nearby island of Vanua Lava, to serve as a parish priest for the remote Ambek community, deep within the islands’ jungle interior.
|Fr Nicholson Worek drawing a map with community members
for WASH Vanuatu. © ACOM 2017. Used with permission.
Over the last three decades, this community has had somewhat of a resurgence. Long ago, there were many people who lived here, farming the land to provide for their families. But struggles from the lack of water meant that life was tough, and several years of severe water shortages eventually forced everyone to leave, taking their animals and meagre possessions with them.
Today, there are over 110 people who have resettled the area, although the old problems still remain. There is no running water, no sewerage or waste systems, and no electricity. Due to the remote location, there are no accessible roads for reliable transportation, no communication via mobile networks, and health care is severely restricted.
During the dry seasons, villagers have to walk long distances on the rough and hilly tracks to get their water from the coastal springs. This can take hours every day, meaning that other important work cultivating crops is affected. Father Nicholson noted that for women with a husband, this burden could be shared along with the other household duties, but for single mothers the strain was almost unbearable.
In 2016, the Anglican Church of Melanesia Vanuatu (ACOMV) began to partner with Father Nicholson and the Ambek community, making plans to develop vital water infrastructure in the village. Since then, four pit latrines have been installed with ABM funding, and work is underway to establish a permanent water source for everyone to access. Moreover, local men have been trained in building their own pit latrines and in how to maintain the water fixtures, and everyone has received training in proper sanitation and hygiene practices.
ACOMV staff have noted significant improvements in the health of local children, compared with the first visit made to the community. In particular, skin diseases have reduced considerably from proper hygiene practices being implemented.
Father Nicholson expressed his gratitude to one staff member recently;
“I must say that as a priest and leader of the community, I am very pleased that ACOMV recognizes the need of water and [is] making its way to assist the community. This is the first time ever for this community, which is known to be the historical site of the Anglican mission in the Banks, to receive assistance from outside.
“We have made an attempt to seek assistance from the government but we were unfortunate. It is my dream to establish a pre-school in this community once we have our water running. Now we have the latrines built and we are all looking forward to walk very short distances to access water in the next few months with assistance from ACOMV.
“Thank you to ACOMV and ABM for the assistance. May God’s blessing be upon you all.”