Tuesday, December 30, 2014

My Official 2014 Airing of Grievances, Names Named, Things Called Out, Et cetera

I recently read an article about how it's good and cleansing for the soul to list, in explicit detail, the people, places, and things that have disappointed or offended you in the past year. The idea is that by being open and honest with the people in your life, you can redevelop and refine your relationships in line with the truths you experience. I definitely have some air I feel needs to be cleared -- and I think this is the perfect platform to do it on. See under the cut!

Friday, December 26, 2014


For the sake of my figure, it is imperative that I get back to Vanuatu ASAP. 

Cookies + food I enjoy + alcohol + cars - kava - having to walk places = mi mi fatfat we. 

Oh, the sorrow! This is what happens when you live somewhere where life is easy and a Dunkin Donuts is around every corner. On a more serious note, I can't believe that my home leave is almost up. Next Saturday is the day. This past week went by incredibly fast ... and now, here I am, not really believing that it's time to go back. It's going to be good, but I just know when I get on that first flight to Dallas, it's going to be so long all over again.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Man Bush

"Man bush" is a jokey, derogatory term that's sort of equivalent to 'hick' or 'red neck.' I can't tell you how many times I'd hear the teenagers at my school reprimand the younger kids with a hissed 'man busssss' -- it's a great term. 

Today's great man bush moment : I'm staying at my brother and sister-in-law's house. I go to take a shower. I use some of the shampoo on the shower ledge, and, as I'm lathering it in, notice that it says that it's medicated. So I pick it up, noticing that it says it's for irritated scalps. I like reading things in the shower, so I decide to see what the medication is, since I have irritated scalps, I guess .... 

It's veterinary shampoo.

It's veterinary shampoo.

That means I used shampoo for dogs and cats on my hair.

My hair smells nice. That's all I'm saying.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Nostalgia Alert

So I'm on the train going down to Richmond right now, and I've spent the past hour editing some of my photos.

Thought 1: Kass, I have so many photos to edit!

Thought 2: Man, I'm bad at editing photos. What on Earth do you do if, when you originally took the picture, the sky was white? Or if, when you originally took the picture, your camera made the sky appear white (and thus made the people in the photo look strange?) I can't make the sky dark without washing people's faces out.

Thought 3: Wow, I caught a lot of good moments. 

Here are a few of the ones that I've edited so far, some of which have appeared here before. But just for nostalgia's sake:


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Cross-culture: Women's Clothes

For today's cross-culture post, I want to talk about clothes. All about clothes. What sort of clothes are social acceptable for doing work around your house? What sort of clothes are acceptable if you're doing sport? What should you wear to church? What are the gender differences? What is seen as formal or informal wear? Basically--how are clothes different in America and Vanuatu?

When I first got to Vanuatu, one of my biggest complaints had to do with the clothing that I had to wear. Vanuatu is a very conservative country, and one of the ways that it's conservative is that shorts and even long trousers are not really seen as appropriate wear for women. While a woman can wear a t shirt or a tank top (and even breastfeed in church), thighs are verboten. In the capital city, Vila, this means : you'll see young women in the Vila uniform of tshirt/tank top, hair slicked back in a bun, earrings, and knee length (or longer) shorts. Think the type of shorts men in America wear. In more remote settings (like where I was on Tongariki), even those long shorts are considered inappropriate for most settings. Women wear shorts while playing sport, doing work around the house, and sometimes while going to the garden. It is, however, inappropriate for women to wear shorts to the nakamal (chief's house / communal meeting house), to church, or inside school bounds. Many villages have a trousers fine. Mine did not have a trousers fine in public places, although my school by-laws specified a 500 vatu fine (around 5.50$) for any woman who wore shorts inside the school boundaries, except during sports hour. I never heard of anyone being charged the trousers fine, but it was considered disrespectful.

And to us, in America, it's like -- what??? As I'm home on home leave, I've been looking around at street style throughout Alexandria and Richmond. There's one thing you can say for sure about women's fashion in America, and that is that during the fall and winter, trousers reign supreme. I don't actually think I've seen a woman walking around in a skirt and a dress yet. You see leggings, jeans, trousers, even occasionally shorts -- but that's because for us, wearing trousers is not suggestive. I think Americans are the opposite of Ni-Vanuatu in that we think showing legs is A-OK, but we explode over whether or not breastfeeding in public is OK, or whether a woman can sunbathe topless. I heard about a professor at American University who was thrown through the ringer in the media for breastfeeding in class. To make the point that this is cultural, my head teacher at Coconak School, Elsie Daniel, breastfed her baby at school multiple times a day, every day. Once I told some friends on the island that, in America, sometimes women have to breastfeed in the toilets at work, and they thought it was just the most disgusting and bizarre thing imaginable. From wanem ol woman i mas kivim titi insaed lo wan toilet? It's American culture that says legs are good but breasts are bad; it's Ni-Van culture that says breasts are good but legs are bad, on a woman.

So, given that modesty in Vanuatu is mostly related to the bottom half of the body, what do women wear?

I already described the Vila uniform for young women -- long shorts, tank/tee, maybe a hoodie. When it comes to professional wear for women of all ages, you'll usually see something along the lines of a calf-length black skirt with an island printed, modest short sleeve shirt. Many businesses in Vila have uniforms for their female workers, which might mean different colors and fabrics, but will be along the same lines. The female staff of the Peace Corps office are super, super fancy, and they usually dress up even more nicely -- usually longer skirts (but sometimes trousers), really nice tops, and of course, earrings, nice hair. (The women who work in the Peace Corps office are seriously very, very stylish. When I'm trying to figure out the lines of what is appropriate yet fashionable, I usually look at what they're wearing for ideas. It has definitely convinced me that I need to spend more time on my hair!) You will, of course, also see TONS of island dresses. They're very versatile -- most of the women who work in the market wear them; many store clerks wear them; many office workers wear them -- and extremely common.

What about in the villages? On Tongariki, most women wear calf length skirts with t shirts or tank tops. Unlike in Vila, clothes tend to be worn until they got pretty crummy. (I include myself here -- I would wear shirts that had rat holes in them, because it was the shirt I had.) It's like clothes downgrade from something you could wear to a nice occasion, to normal clothes, to something that you only wear if you're going to the garden and nowhere else. On Tongariki it is especially common for women to wear island dresses. I can't remember my Auntie Ruth not wearing an island dress. On casual occasions, like around the house, or for young women who had been wearing trousers but needed to go to the nakamal, it is really common to wrap a sarong around your waist. These are not super stylish sarongs like they wear in Burma or Samoa -- it's usually just tying a knot around a hip rather than folding it over.

I did get very used to wearing long skirts, which I didn't expect. In America, you couldn't have caught me dead in one -- but they have their advantages. In day-to-day life, my island uniform is a tank top, a long skirt, flip flops, knock off Raybans, and a woven basket. In Vila, I usually dress like a tourist, and when I run into friends and family from Tongariki, I just hope I'm not wearing shorts that are too short. Vila is pretty free, because the Australian cruise ship tourists wear microscopic mini shorts. This means, as a foreign looking woman, I don't feel weird dressing 'western' in the main part of town. Caveat: this only applies to people who do not live in Vila. If you're a woman who works in Vila, you have to be a lot more careful about the clothes you wear, since it's such a small town. For me, I can dress like everyday is Fleet Week if I want to. (I don't.) But it's important to remember.

Coming up tomorrow : men's clothes! Or, the revenge of the island shirt.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Cross-Culture: New Baby Parties!

Ok. Today's post is going to be happier than yesterday's! It's also going to be shorter.That's because it's about a happier topic, which is new baby parties. Everyone loves to celebrate a new baby. That's because babies are wonderful. I especially like babies when they're about six months old and because they don't have teeth look so happy to see everyone. <3 It'll be shorter, because I think the differences are smaller here than they are when talking about end of life.

The main reason for choosing this idea: my brother and his wife are going to have a new baby in February, and so a while back I went to their baby shower. It was super lovely, and--because they roasted a pig!--really made me think of it in contrast to baby showers in Vanuatu. I'm going to describe their baby shower and then describe a new baby party that happened for my good friend, Elsie.

Nick and Anna's baby shower was an afternoon party. Anna's friend Gaelyn did the planning. There were decorations (Dr. Seuss and children's books), activities (decorating bibs and creating mementos for the baby, when she arrives in the world), and a lifetime supply of food. We're talking a whole roast pig, a roast turkey, salads, deviled eggs, dips, chips, cakes, pies, meatballs, smores, so much food, and tons of drinks, too. After everyone had lunch, we watched Nick and Anna open their presents--mostly books, clothes, toys, blankets, that sort of thing. People started to leave, but some stuck around for a few more hours, drinking beer and cleaning up and chatting.

When Elsie came back from the hospital with small Renata Amanda, the new baby party was a night event. Elsie and her fiance's families butchered a pig and got a big meal of roasted root crops underneath hot stones. First, there was a small religious ceremony inside the community hall, where the Presbyterian pastors led hymns and prayers for Renata. Everyone gave presents, but more along the line of cloth and diapers and laundry soap. Afterwards, there was a lot of kava, a bottle of whiskey floating around, and dinner. Some people were still drinking when I left.

These were both great parties! As you can see, I think it's clear that these two parties both shared tons in common. You've got the feast, the presents for the baby, the best wishes from the people around, the drinking (to a degree, more so at Elsie and Terry's than at Nick and Anna's) ... even the pig. But there are some differences that go beyond economic changes. 

One major difference is that in Vanuatu, parties happen after the baby is born rather than before. This is because there is a much higher rate of still birth and neonatal death in Vanuatu than in America. One thing that I find really, really sad, is how when I ask a woman how many children she has, she'll include in her count the number of children who died.

Another difference (happier, this time), is in the social function of the baby shower/baby party. By 'social function', I mean-- why have a party? In America, I feel that although there is someone who acts as the host or hostess, the major reason for the shower is so that family and friends can give things for the baby. It's like the idea that we will give presents for the new baby, and in return, as part of the social contract, we too will receive reciprocal presents. Culturally, I think it's a delayed gift giving exchange, similar to how we give presents to newly married couples, knowing that when it is (or was) our turn to be married, we will get (or did get) our own presents. In Vanuatu, on the other hand, while it is still a gift exchange, I think the real point is more that it's a feast thrown by the family of the baby. It's a way to introduce the baby to everyone and to welcome him or her into the community. In my opinion, it is a very important feast, and you can tell that by the food. Pigs are very important, because traditionally they are a valuable cultural symbol of wealth. So by throwing a feast (and sponsoring the meat of the feast, in particular), the baby's family goes to serious expense to feed anyone who shows up.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Cross-Culture: Deaths and Funerals

I thought it'd be fun to do a mini informative series of posts about cross-cultural differences between America. My hope is that by highlighting an American practice and contrasting it to a Ni-Vanuatu practice, people who read this blog will get to know more about my country of service. As I'm home on home leave, I keep getting struck by little things -- talk of funeral arrangements, baby showers, how kids should/should not behave -- that differ here than in Vanuatu. Sometimes the differences are pretty subtle, but I think it's interesting to consider how we as Americans have our own culture and our own practices that differ from others.

I want to start with something pretty heavy, which is death and funerals.

I'm choosing death and funerals for several reasons. One is that I listened to this absolutely bonkers/great Fresh Air podcast this weekend called A Mortician Talks Openly About Death and Wants You To Too. The mortician in question wants Americans to be more comfortable with death, to have wakes, to accompany their dead family members to the crematory, to eschew embalming, to use degradable shrouds to bury their dead, et cetera. She believes that practices that let living family members come into closer contact with their dead are more natural, healthy, and conducive to a successful grieving process. While I was listening to the podcast, I did think, Wow, actually, when I die at the age of 103, I would like it if my family dressed me in my nicest outfit at home and then bury me quickly in the backyard where they'd see my headstone every day. That would actually be nice. My second thought was -- Wow, absent her discussion of embalming and cremation, she is basically describing Ni-Vanuatu death practices to a T. It's because of this extreme disparity between American and Ni-Vanuatu culture surrounding death and funerals that this just has to be the first post.

In America, people might die at home or in the hospital. A doctor or a coroner has to pronounce the person dead, and if he or she dies at home, the police have to be called. If the dead person wanted to be an organ donor, some tissue might be retrieved. You call family and friends, and have the body taken to a funeral home. Typically the staff of the funeral home embalms the body, puts on makeup to look more natural, and puts the body in clothes selected by the family. Sometimes people hold wakes. Observant Jews will have a funeral very soon after death, but most other people will wait a certain amount of time so that all family can make the arrangements to come. The funeral might have several components. For example, for my grandfather Peter Gritis, there was a Catholic mass and an Elks ceremony in March, followed by a military burial at Arlington in July. We can and do have large gaps between when a person dies and when their body is buried, usually for family convenience but sometimes because of scheduling at a cemetery. And when burials happen, they happen in a coffin, sometimes with trinkets or mementos inside. There are prayers at the graveside, people might throw flowers, or the family might throw handfuls of dirt. Afterwards, usually there's a headstone, although sometimes people use crypts. In the case of cremation, the ashes will either be collected in a box, collected in a box and buried, or scattered somewhere scenic or meaningful. That's how we deal with death.

In Vanuatu, it's different. I'm going to describe death and funerals on Tongariki, but this is the general pattern in small villages in remote areas throughout the country. Most people die at home. This is because when people are very sick, doctors will encourage them to go home to die. It's not being heartless. When people from an outer island die in a remote hospital, their families usually will suffer an extreme financial burden to charter a boat or a plane to take their bodies back to their home village. This can be several thousand dollars, in a country where most people make their money through small scale agriculture. You don't call a doctor, because it's pretty obvious when someone is dead. The women of the family will wash the body immediately and wrap the body in cloth, and place the cloth on pandanas mats. The news goes around. That day, within a set of hours, everyone who has a relationship with the deceased or their family will come over to cry and wail. This will go on for hours as a sign of respect. You'll see some people are really bawling while some others aren't crying anymore, but they'll still wail. There are hymns and prayers. Afterwards, everyone will shake hands with the deceased's family. The village all eats together, and school is cancelled the next day out of respect.

The burial happens either the same day or the next morning. In one case, I heard of a burial that was delayed for three days because a child thought that their father was poisoned by magic, and this was considered extremely disrespectful on the child's part. Unlike the mourning part (which is called a ded), the burial is basically private. Often the burial will happen very close to the house. A friend of mine had her brother buried by their outdoor eating table, and they would decorate the tomb every year. The general style is to have a raised coffin-shaped cement block plus a headstone, or simply a cement headstone with the name written in.  

There are some things that I think are better about funerals in Vanuatu. I think it's wonderful that grieving is communal. You never have a situation where there's a death in the family and people don't seem to know, or care. I think that there is something that is more humane about how deaths happen at home, and how people bury their dead nearby. I don't think that this is possible for us, since except for Native Americans, none of us have kastom land, the way Ni-Vanuatu do. But I think it's beautiful, and I think it underlies the tie to the land and the space.

On the other hand, I think that it's better that in America we have our time to have funerals and say our respects. I find it very sad how many deds I've been to where the deceased died somewhere else, and the family found out a few days later but wasn't able to attend because the burial had to be held that day. A good friend of mine had her father die on another island, and, of course, she wasn't able to attend. Maybe we'd be better psychologically if we all got together and grieved/mourned/wailed it out for four hours communally, rather than spreading our grief out, bit by bit, but at least daughters in America can typically attend their father's funerals.

Thursday, December 11, 2014


1. As of yet, I haven't eaten the weird worms that come out of the ocean in October. I really want to eat the worms.

2. I still don't know how to weave a mat. I know kids who can't identify every letter in the alphabet yet who can weave mats.

3. I suspect I spend too much time complaining at any given moment about where I am. There's this really great poem I read at site:

where we are by gerald locklin:

i envy those
who live in two places:
new york, say, and london;
wales and spain;
l.a. and paris;
hawai'i and switzerland.
there is always the anticipation 
of change, the chance that what is wrong
is the result of where you are. i have 
always loved both the freshness of 
arriving and the relief of leaving. with
two homes every move would be a homecoming.
i am not even considering the weather, hot
or cold, dry or wet: i am talking about hope. 

I wrote that on my front door on Tongariki. In a way, I always felt I lived in two places--Tongariki and Efate. I felt that way because while Tongariki was my life, Efate was where I got to see all my volunteer friends and have fun. Now I live on Malekula, but I'm in America, too. For me, this poem represents my ambivalence about moving and of having my life spread out across different places. It's especially odd with physical things -- I have clothes here in Alexandria, Virginia, and in Tautu village on Malekula, and in the resource room in Port Vila, and Mami Esther is now the proud owner of everything else, back on Atong. 

Home leave, 2 weeks!

For the sake of historical record, I present: my home leave.

11/26: Spend 24 hours in transit. Look like hell and feel worse. First smoked salmon bagel in 2 years. In the airport in LA, I was thinking--man, everyone's on their little electronic screens! I, too, want an electronic device. Mom, Dad, and Ben meet me at the airport. LOVE YOU.

11/27: First proper Thanksgiving in 2 years. Bigfala lavet wetem ol famli blong mi. There's enough food for an army. I try to sell my younger cousins on the merits of kava and moving to a 3rd world country. It appears to go well. I eat one slice of every pie.

11/28: I vehemently say that I won't go shopping on Black Friday because it's done. Then my parents and I go to buy a new computer. Oh, yeah, and all of my clothes are in storage and can't be removed. Plus, all of the big box stores are 40-50% off. Plus, I do actually need something to wear other than the one pair of jeans I brought with me. 

11/29: I think I get dragged out shopping.

11/30: Go to church. Go with Mom and Dad out to this place called Massanutten. Go see Luray caverns first -- very, very, very nice. 

11/31: Go to a water park. (Yeah. It was awesome). Sit.

12/1: I play racquetball with my dad. We drive back to Richmond and stop at Montpelier, home of James Madison. Foolish me, I thought you pronounced it like the French, Montpellier. That'd be wrong. Learn lots and lots about James Madison. Hemi taff.

12/2-12/4: Off the top of my head, no recollection. I'm sure I did something, but this is why I need to actually write a diary -- can't remember! Oh! Now I do. Did random errands like mail packages, buy and wrap Christmas presents, and start to get un-lost in Virginia. Night of the 4th, go down to Richmond to help set up a baby shower.

12/5: Everyone is busy and no one is ready to set anything up! So get my nails done. (So nice!) Wander around looking for a plastic baby doll of the appropriate size. Eat barbecue. See Ben + Alyssa + Quinn. Dinner at Nick + Anna.

12/6: Nice baby shower! We roasted a pig, so kind of like what we do in Vanuatu. Except for authentic style, the men of the family should probably have butchered it themselves. Presents, too. 

12/7: Head back up to Alexandria with my dad.

12/8: First day to sit!! in !! the !! house!! and !! do !! nothing. Glorious.

12/9: Take a Red Cross course in case that comes in handy.

12/10: Alyssa and Quinn come up for the day. Quinn dances, and watches Dora, and decorates sugar cookies, and generally refuses to eat her meals. She's adorable. Auntie Manda is a pretty decent name, I guess.

12/11: GRE! 195$ and merci a dieu I'm never going to take it ever again. Ever ever ever ever ever. Got up at 5 a.m. today and was sitting in an Einstein Brothers at 6, wondering what went on in my life that I would decide to spend almost 200$ on a test. 4 hours of my life I can never get back. At least every prompt can be related to Vanuatu! Had fish tacos at lunch and saw the new Hunger Games movie. 

And that's two weeks! I realized that I only have a little over three weeks left in America. It's been weird -- both very slow and very fast. I feel like I haven't had a chance to sit and just veg out yet (although, of course, I have ample time in Vanuatu. Maybe I'm just accustomed to spending a large portion of my day gazing off into space?)

Three weeks left. Going to NY for New Years and then back to the island!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


I am dying to know who is going to replace me on Tongariki. Absolutely dying. I want to know sooooooooooo badlyyyyyy for several reasons.

1. I'll admit it, I totally want to scope them out. I hope that they are cooler than me and know how to play guitar.

2. I want to have a spy in place so that I can hear what my friends and family say about Leilima (that's me), and also what the people I didn't get along with so well have to say about me. If I had to sit through two years of hearing about Leitong and Leiriki, they can report back to me about what they've heard about Leilima.

3. I have realized, thanks to pictures, that my world map has the country Niger ... and another country called Niger. Obviously one of them is really Nigeria, and the spelling mistake gets to me, even ... how many thousand miles away?

4. I want to start coordinating projects with them. I promise that I will stay out of their hair and not be overbearing/annoying/that awful volunteer who never left, but I love writing grants and I would adore it if there was some way we could speed up the following:
          a. some grant to fix the teachers' housing roofs
          b. sorting the books that I have coming to the school library
          c. actually putting up the AusHC grant tank that's coming to the kindy
          d. I want more water tanks. More tanks!!! If I had another year on Tongariki, all I would do would be put up water tanks.

I'm also madly curious about the rest of the Sheps vols. The Shepherds are taff and so are you! Please don't ET the first time you come in from the island on the ship.           

Being in America feel surreal

I'm glad to be back home for this break. But being in America feels strange. In one sense, I feel like I just left it and everything is still the same. But on the other hand, just like two years have gone by on the island, two years have gone by here, and I don't think I fit back here properly. It'd be different if I was here for good, here to stay, but since I'm leaving again in less than a month, it all feels a little off. 

My friend Ken posted an update on Facebook about how weird it is to leave Vanuatu, where we are all the most interesting people of all time, to go to another country where we are just a face in the crowd.

Combine that, with the fact that, from here where I'm sitting in Virginia, Vanuatu seems so distant, so foreign. Yesterday I was going through a stack of pictures that my mom printed out from my parents' trip to Tongariki last year. I thought our refrigerator needed four--Miriam, Morris, and Asina; my mom and I in island dresses; my dad with Bubu David, a view of the other Shepherds islands--but as I was looking through the photos, it struck me just how weird it all is. I've had that feeling a few times so far, and it's strange to realize that what has seemed so familiar for so long now seems so distant, just because I have changed where I am. Everything is the same, but I've moved.

A good example of how my perspective on Tongariki has been rattled around a bit has to do with poverty. Tongariki is a poor island, but while I was living there, I got used to it. A few days ago, though, I was thinking about signs of serious poverty, and I realized I had so many things to think about, even if I was just to think about the kids. Many of the children have these huge open sores that they don't cover up, because their parents don't have plasters and don't want to send them to the dispensary to buy a few that'll just fall off anyway. So these little kids have flies on their sores. Or how some of the little babies will wear basically rags, or how there are moms there who can't afford enough diapers. Or even how this one girl in class 4, who I liked very, very much, had one shirt that she wore to school for the whole first year, and then a few months before I left, started wearing another girl's hand-me-down. Or little babies with swollen bellies, thanks to worms. When you live there, you just start to not notice it anymore ... But it's so, so, so poor. And while I think that Vanuatu has a very specific kind of poverty--poorly accessible in the South Pacific is is a special kind of poorly accessible--it makes you think about how many other people in the world face the same challenges. They have trade-offs that we don't even think about, like choosing which child seems most intelligent and only paying for their secondary school fees. 

And America is so, so, so rich. We don't have these problems. I was telling my mom about a situation on the island that I think in America would be classified as neglect, but that on the island, I really just think is something very understandable, and not neglect, but parents needing to provide for their family. I'm very glad to be back home and I feel like it's all easier here. But I think my head is still in the game back where I live. America is home but it's not where I'm from anymore, and that is a weird realization. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Some more unsolicited advice

1. Buy a ten dollar Bible in Port Vila. I have pretty strong feelings about going to church here--I really, really, really think that it's a good idea--but it's good to have something to read during church. It can be pretty boring ... especially when it happens in local language. But out of respect for the culture, I still think that, no matter what, you have to go at least fairly regularly. But buy a Bible. If it's boring or you can't understand what's going on, at least you can read Ecclesiastes or something.

2. If you don't buy nice sheets and you only have the Peace Corps sheets ... Sew the sides together to make fitted sheets. It will improve your life to not always wake up sleeping on the mattress.

3. If you're going to buy dried beans, lentils cook at least 2x or even 3x faster than any other type.

4. If you're eating with your host parents, make sure that you make a financial contribution to the household. Don't hand them a 1000 vatu note (that's weird), but make sure that you buy tuna fish and sugar and oil and that kind of thing. Yams might be free, but your host parents still worked hard to grow them, so make sure that their children aren't dying for a lolly, or something.

5. Always put bleach in your laundry bucket. If you only use a little bit, it'll make sure that your clothes are cleaner and smell much better than if you only use laundry soap! It'll give you advice on the bottle, but I usually do a few capfuls. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

I really want to do this:

Part of my job is supposed to be giving awareness about climate change mitigation. All of the local committees are technically Community Disaster and Climate Change Committees ... so there's some space in there.

Anyway, I really want to do a demo project based on this:

Solar Cooker

I think it'd mostly be an awareness project, more like "look this is possible" rather than "go out and build one, young man!" But tell me that that doesn't look cool. Solar energy is so, so big in Vanuatu for torches and indoor lighting--I think it'd be great to show that you can cook off of it, too.