30 November 2014

Vanuatu Civil Registration

The development of the Civil Registry’s information management system by the Department of Civil Status received international recognition for promoting national ownership as well as being an enabler of decentralisation and reaching families in some of the most remote islands in the country. This 14 minute video documents the uniqueness and innovative approach of the process

07 November 2014

How does a ball help change the lives of children?

©Just Play/2012

It all starts with a ball. But when you add an inspiring coach and a safe place to play, the power of sport takes root. Children are naturally drawn to sport, recreation and play, which are a vital part of childhood.

Not only are they a vital part of helping children to grow, learn and explore, they are every child’s right. As outlined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary on November 20th, 2014, every child has the right to leisure, recreation and cultural activities.

26 October 2014

A better chance, a better future

Joslyn and Carol with their grandmother and aunt.
© UNICEF Pacific./2014/Thakkar
Port Vila is the lovely little capital of Vanuatu. Remarkably beautiful but also, compared to the hustle and bustle of foreign cities, remarkably quiet. Shops shut by 5pm on weekdays, midday on Saturdays and almost everything is closed all day Sunday, for religious observance and gatherings at homes. Two main roads, running parallel, each going one way.

28 September 2014

Oceania Football Commission Mascot Handover Ceremony, Ba, Fiji

Congratulations to the students of D.A.V Primary in Ba, Fiji.
As winners of the OFC Mascot competition, which was run through the OFC Just Play Programme, in conjunction with partners UNICEF and the Australian Sports Commission - students of D.A.V Primary in Ba were handed a desk top computer last Friday by UNICEF Pacific Representative, Dr. Karen Allen.

08 September 2014

Measles cases pass 800 in Solomon Islands, Number could be much higher

A 3 month old boy at the National Referral Hospital (NRH), Measles Ward.
© UNICEF Pacific./2014/Tahu

It is hard to know the pain and discomfort three month-old Peter* (real name not given to respect privacy) is going through. But just looking at the rash all over his body gives you an idea. 

02 September 2014

Little beginnings

Linline with her father and daughter.
 © UNICEF Pacific./2014/Thakkar
Imagine being a little girl in a village of less than 500 people on an island in a country that most people don’t know exists. You live in a simple home – dirt floor with a tin roof. No modern gadgets like washing machines, vacuum cleaners or television. In fact, not even electricity. If you are lucky, there is a generator and enough fuel for it to provide some light after sunset. You are likely to drop out after primary school because your parents cannot afford secondary school fees. As a young woman, you will have your first child before the age of 21. Considering two out of three women in your country are victims of violent and sexual abuse, you are likely to experience that as well. Your daily routine involves waking up between 6-7 am, cleaning your home, doing the laundry, washing utensils, subsistence farming, cooking and caring for the family – every single day. This is your life.  

12 August 2014

When giving up is not an option

Villagers helping Susan with weighing the babies before 
vaccination. © UNICEF Pacific./2014/Thakkar
Susan Wokeke is a 30-year old nurse in the village health center of Big Bay Bush on Santo Island (one of Vanuatu’s 83 islands). Fresh out of nursing college, she was posted here at the tender age of 20. With a heart full of aspirations, she wanted to make a difference in the lives of the people here, reach out to them and help them with their health concerns. She soon realised that it was not going to be easy at all.

10 August 2014

Who are you?

Over the weekend, I conducted an exercise asking people around me a simple question, “Who are you?” Think about this question for a moment. Have a quick three-sentence response in mind?

In my experience, invariably, the answer began with a name followed by either what one did for a living and/or where they came from or lived. Please do share and tell us more about who you are with #whoareyou. 

24 July 2014

Did you PLAY today?

Rorona Kalsakau, Just Play Project Manager leading a
Just Play session at the at the Vanuatu Society for
Persons with Disabilities in Port Vila, Vanuatu.
Everyday around the Pacific region, children gather in open spaces, at community schools and on empty pitches to take part in Just Play sessions. Equipment bags come out, cones and balls line the field. 

Children gather around their coach and wait in anticipation as the Challenge of the Week from the last session is reviewed. Hands fly into the air in response to their coach’s question: “Who worked hard to make health lifestyle choices, eating 2 fruits and 3 vegetables today?” Smiles can be seen, and applause heard coming from the group acknowledging their accomplishment. 

22 July 2014

The moral of the story is in the data

Participants:  Data for Development: Workshop to Build Capacity in
Statistical Literacy and Data Use to Support Child-Relevant Planning,
Decision-Making and Advocacy. © UNICEF Pacific./2014/Thakkar
Last week my colleague Rebecca (Monitoring and Evaluation Officer for UNICEF Vanuatu) asked me if I could join her and our colleagues Bjorn and Asenaca from the Suva office for a workshop organised by UNICEF and Vanuatu National Statistics Office (VNSO). She said it would be handy if I could write up a press release for the local media. Seemed like a simple task so why not. Then she told me the subject of the workshop, which was “Data for Development: Workshop to Build Capacity in Statistical Literacy and Data Use to Support Child-Relevant Planning, Decision-Making and Advocacy”. 

13 July 2014

For the love of Tennis

Daisy/Naomi on the tennis court. 
© UNICEF Pacific/2014/Alcock
Daisy is 13 years old. Her tennis coach Francis Bryard describes her as an exceptionally polite girl who is a fighter at heart. She lost her father when she was four years old. As a little child, extremely attached to her father, she had a hard time getting over his death. Her mother pulled her through the most difficult period of both their lives. Daisy says getting over that tough phase made her the fighter that she is today. She is a girl of many words - eloquent in speaking and loves reading. She says she has little interest in sport with the exception of tennis.

06 July 2014

What is happiness?

A proud happy country. UNICEF Pacific./2014/Thakkar
Pharrell Williams took the world by storm with his ‘Happy’ song. It went viral within days with people around the world making their own video, dancing and clapping along with the tune.

02 July 2014

World Cup Fever in the Pacific and Just Play

Football World Cup 2014 has managed to mesmerise the world in unprecedented ways. Even countries like the USA and India who weren’t typically known as “football countries” have not been able to escape the charm of the game and the contagious enthusiasm of its fans. Vanuatu is no exception to that phenomenon. Yes, World Cup fever has gripped even the countries of the Pacific!

01 July 2014

Students thank UNICEF and New Zealand during visit by UNICEF Deputy Executive Director and Regional Director

Lyrics of the song the children sang during the visit.
© UNICEF Pacific/2014/Tahu
The lyrics of the song speaks volumes of the gratitude that Titinge Primary School students have towards the Government and people of New Zealand as well as UNICEF. Their appreciation is for enhancing their learning environment through the solar power for schools pilot project and the upgrade of water and sanitation facilities.

Early this week the students got the chance to present the song to the Ms. Yoka Brandt, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director (DED), Daniel Toole, UNICEF Regional Director (RD) for East Asia and Pacific and a representatives from the New Zealand High Commission Office, during a special visit to the school.

18 June 2014

A world without chocolate

Certainly not a world I want to live in! But I say that as a chocolate lover with a borderline addiction issue. 

As I was preparing for my trip to the Solomons, I did what anyone with internet access does - google relevant practical information. I packed some chocolate just in case I needed a fix while I was on the plane. So this well-prepared traveller arrives in Honiara and is all set for the place... or so she thinks! 

10 June 2014

Data collection, the easy way! 2-6 June 2014 in Port Vila, Vanuatu

On the way to Nguna, Vanuatu. © UNICEF Pacific/
Everyone who has ever conducted an interview using paper and pen in the field quickly encounters the same problems: backpacks heavy with paper, ink running in the rain, surveys blowing away in the wind, and decoding illegible handwriting. And then there are the hours of typing from paper to computer with the ever present problem of data entry errors.

09 June 2014

It is still not too late

The only source of water close to Tenavatu Primary school .
© UNICEF Pacific/2014/Thakkar
Did you wash your hands with soap and clean water in the last 24 hours? I am willing to bet you did. Perhaps even in the last 24 minutes. Did you know that is a privilege and not everyone is as lucky as you? Yes, something as simple as washing hands i.e. access to soap and clean, safe water is a matter of luck depending on where you live and it is a massive determining factor IF you will live at all.

In the last two weeks, 18 young children in the Solomon Islands died of dehydration due to diarrhoea. They died before they even had the chance to celebrate their fifth birthday. UNICEF and its partners have been working hard on water, sanitation and hygiene interventions in flood-affected areas, but diarrhoea cases spread in areas not affected by the April floods. While investigations are still going on, the fatalities are likely because of rotavirus, a highly infectious virus that is very dangerous to young children. When their parents or other caregivers are not educated about how to care for them, including taking them to a health care centre immediately, children can quickly dehydrate and die.

03 June 2014

Laugh and cry together: the Solomon way

From L to R - Simon, Francis, Jacob, Israel: community 
coming together. © UNICEF Pacific/2014/Thakkar
Jacob Togovi is a 17-year old boy living in Kwai village in central Guadalcanal province in the Solomon Islands. He has an identical twin named Isaac. In addition, he has three sisters and another brother. Like all children in this village, Jacob and Isaac have completed primary education. But they could not continue their education since the closest secondary school is a three hour walk from their village. Instead they work with their father, Simon, to make ends meet.

01 June 2014

The day I almost died

Post traumatic memories and economic struggle make it 
hard to concentrate in school. © UNICEF Pacific/2014/Thakkar

Junior Miniti is a 14-year old boy living in Koahill, an area in Honiara city along the banks of the river Matanikau. Flash floods in early April 2014 obliterated his neighbourhood and claimed 18 out of the 22 lives lost that fateful day. His family chose to be in the evacuation centre for just a week. They went back to, what was left of their neighbourhood, started cleaning and rebuilding immediately. It took over a week’s hard work to just deal with fixing his home. It is now almost two months, and counting, cleaning up the neighbourhood. The signs of the devastation are still evident in the surroundings and the people. This is Junior’s story.

25 May 2014

Value of Ten Dollars

What is the value of your ten dollars? I suppose most people are inclined to say ten dollars is ten dollars anywhere in the world. This question makes no sense at all. Well, let’s try an exercise.

Part# 1 exercise

Convert US$ 10 to your local currency and head to the closest supermarket to see what your money can buy. With the help of my local colleague Atenia Tahu, we decided to pick some of the common staple food items in the Solomons. Here is a picture of the value of my US$ 10 in Honiara.

© UNICEF Pacific/2014/Thakkar

19 May 2014

The World's Blind Spot

© UNICEF Pacific/2014/Tahu
“Have you visited the Solomon Islands before?’ asked the flight attendant as he poured me a cup of tea. When I told him I hadn’t and, in fact, this was my very first time in the Pacific region; with a smile, he said, “It is a nice country; good people but going through a hard time”. 

I was as foreign to the region, as the region was to me. I wondered why. I am curious about the world, I read a lot about current affairs/issues, I’ve ventured quite a fair bit and am surrounded by well-travelled, interesting people who yawn at the idea of holidaying in Paris, New York. Instead they travel off-the-beaten track to places like Pyongyang, Bratislava, the South Pole and yet I didn’t know a single person who had been to Honiara. I didn’t know anyone who could give me first hand information about the capital city of the Solomon Islands, not some small little village on its many islands but the country’s capital city.

08 May 2014

Nasautoka Primary School Leads the Way in School Hygiene in Fiji

Students from Nasautoka Primary School. © UNICEF Pacific/2014/Hing
WAINIBUKA, FIJI – Tiled floors, a mirror and a washbasin with soap. These are the basic ingredients for a school bathroom. But for students of Nasautoka Primary School and many other schools in Fiji, these ingredients and facilities are not common place. 

The lack of hygiene facilities at many schools throughout Fiji account for increased rates of absenteeism and illness among students and teachers. “Most of the students used to get very sick”, says Head Teacher, Kasanita Cakacaka. Unsafe water and poor sanitation account for nutritional deficiencies, diarrhoea, worm infestations, respiratory infections, skin and eye infections. These preventable diseases lead to poor attendance or attention at school and hindering many children’s ability to learn, grow and develop.

07 May 2014

UNICEF Donates Medical Supplies to National Medical Store

Vimal Pillay UNICEF Supply Assistant off loading medical
supplies to National Medical Store workers.
© UNICEF Pacific/2014

Since the 4th of April flash flooding in Solomon Islands, Honiara has been hectic. Government ministries, United Nations, non-government organizations, private sector, schools, hospitals, clinics and communities have all switched on their emergency mode and put everything else aside to provide safe water, food, shelter, basic sanitation and hygiene facilities to thousands of flood victims. School staff and students and communities have pitched in to clean up so that children could get back to school, and families are trying to rebuild damaged businesses and homes.

06 May 2014

15 Primary Schools in Fiji Have Improved Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Facilities

Tiled floors, a mirror and a washbasin with soap – these seem like the basic ingredients for a school bathroom. For students of Nasautoka District School and many others in Fiji, this was not always so.

15 April 2014

Plastic basins keep children alive during flooding in Solomon Islands

By Atenia Tahu, UNICEF 

More than one week after devastating floods in Honiara, Solomon Islands, over 9,000 people are still sheltering at evacuation centres. While those who are able go out during the day to work and try to repair or rebuild, mothers and children stay there day and night. One of the evacuation centres is a big room at the Holy Cross Cathedral. 

Three babies - Alistair Iroga, Lester Maemalaohu and Harry Sareto’oma, all survived the flash floods on 3-5 April because their parents put them in plastic basins and pushed them across the flood waters to safety. The flood destroyed the homes and possessions of the babies’ families.

13 April 2014

After the floods

© UNICEF Pacific/2014/ATahu

The Solomon Islands was hit by its worst ever flooding from 3-5 April, 2014. The flooding caused deaths and widespread damages to housing, food, water, educational facilities, and heath care that affected more than 50,000 people, of which about 24,000 are children. UNICEF is supporting the Government of Solomon Islands to respond to the pressing needs of the people affected and aims to help bring children back to school and normalcy as soon as possible.

Note : To view Photo captions enlarge Photo Story and click show info.

If you want to help the children and women of Solomon Islands, please click here

12 April 2014

UNICEF Pacific donates tents and tarpaulins

By Atenia Tahu

UNICEF Pacific donated three 80m² tents and 20 tarpaulins to the Honiara City Council, for use by people who fled from floodwaters between 3-5 April. The tents are erected at the Festival of the Pacific Arts (FOPA) compound that is being used as an evacuation centre, and the tarpaulins are used on the roofs of leaf huts to prevent leaking when it rains. Around 350 people are currently sheltering there.

Honiara City Council volunteers assist in transporting UNICEF tents to the FOPA compound. © UNICEF Pacific/2014/ATahu

11 April 2014

Baby Clera celebrates two week birthday in evacuation center

Story by: Vika Waradi
Communication Officer, UNICEF Pacific

Miracle baby Clera and family survived Solomon Islands floods.
She is two weeks old today. 
© UNICEF Pacific/2014/VWaradi

A mother’s joy of giving birth to her healthy baby girl turned into a fight to save her daughter’s life. Only a week after returning home from hospital with her new bundle of joy, Madeline Hiro, found herself desperately trying to save her family from the raging waters that took their family home during the recent flash floods in Honiara. She now joins 52,000 people who have been affected by this disaster that has also claimed the lives of at least twenty-one people, many of which were children. 

07 April 2014

A Strong Offense is the Best Defence Against Dengue

 OFC Champions league match 
© UNICEF Pacific/2014/Melissa Palombi
Joining forces to help celebrate World Health Day, the Oceania Football Confederation, Fiji Football Association, the Ministry of Health Fiji and UNICEF Pacific link sport and dengue to support the Kick Dengue Out campaign at the OFC Champions League tournament.

06 April 2014

Eight-year old carried away by flooded river out to sea but bravely survives Solomon Islands flash floods while relatives tragically perish

By Atenia Tahu
Communication for Development Officer, Solomon Islands

Isiah Andrew, 8 years old, may be one of the youngest to survive the dreadful flash floods that swept hundreds of homes away, leaving 17 dead, 30 missing and an estimated 12,000 people homeless as of yesterday.

Isiah lives with his parents in Wagina, a settlement in Choiseul province. A week before the floods, he came to Honiara to spend his one week school break with his sister as he always does. But little did he know, this holiday would be a haunting one for the rest of his life.

Isiah Andrew at West Kola-Ridge. © UNICEF Pacific/2014/ATahu

How Just Play is Helping to Kick Dengue Out of the Pacific

 Kids doing Just Play demonstration during the OCF Champions 
league match © UNICEF Pacific/2014/Melissa Palombi
Kicking off the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) Champions League tournament in Fiji, was the Just Play team in celebration of the 1st International Day of Sport for Development and Peace. The OFC, Ministry of Health of Fiji, Ministry of Youth and Sport of Fiji and UNICEF Pacific, joined together, linking sport and health, in support of the “Kick Dengue Out” campaign.

03 April 2014

Just Play reaches out to children across the pacific

Just Play instructors and project managers 
© OFC/Fiji/TranVan/2014
On the coat tail of the Sport and Peace awards, which saw the Oceania Football Confederation Just Play programme recognized as the Sport Federation of the year, Just Play Programme Managers and Instructors gathered in Auckland for the unveiling of the new curriculum.  

“This new content is much more educational than in the past. The curriculum, with integrated health and social messages, will provide participants with access to information which they normally did not have”, said Rorona Kalsakau, Programme Manager from Vanuatu.  

31 March 2014

Solar power enhances learning

Photo of Ivory Kete, during her maths class at 1:10pm © UNICEF Pacific/2014/ATahu

Ivory Kete, 14, is a grade five student at the Titinge Primary School, located on a ridge along the southern outskirt of the capital, Honiara. I met her recently when I accompanied a UNICEF photographer capturing world class photos of children and children’s issues in the pacific.

18 March 2014

Solomon Island youth to use radio to save lives

Youths and WASH stakeholders from various organizations
© UNICEF Pacific/2014/ATahu
In early March 2014, 6 youth from the Solomon Islands were trained to produce an interactive radio show to engage with other youth around this Pacific island nation and promote awareness and adoption of life saving key family practices focusing on water, sanitation, hygiene, health, child protection and education.

15 March 2014

Suva City Anti-Dengue Clean-Up Campaign

UNICEF Pacific, partners and volunteers, came together and took a collaborative approach to stop the increase in dengue cases by cleaning up Suva City.

10 February 2014

Born Identity: Give every child their birth right.

Who am I?

I am young person. I have goals and ambitions in life. I have a passion for photography. I like to capture special moments that turn into beautiful memories.

My name is Benjamin Cola. I am 18 years old. I am a Fijian. This is my identity!

I believe I am fortunate to be born in a Pacific Island Country and have my identity registered at birth and have a birth certificate to be recognised as an individual who has the right to experience life to the fullest.

I am also fortunate not to be part of a global statistic showing that 1 in 3 children under the age of five do not officially exist because they have not been registered at birth and do not have a birth certificate.

21 January 2014

Queen’s Baton spends Christmas with children in Vanuatu photo story

The holiday season in Vanuatu was even more special with the visit of the Queen’s Baton Relay over the Christmas break.

Queen’s Baton spends Christmas with children in Vanuatu

A small girl in one of the villages
welcomes the Queen Baton Relay
The holiday season in Vanuatu was even more special with the visit of the Queen’s Baton Relay over the Christmas break. The Baton Relay is currently taking place around the world in the lead up to the XX Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and has recently finished its leg of the journey through the Pacific.  UNICEF is the charity partner of the Commonwealth Games, providing a great opportunity to focus on the children of Commonwealth countries, highlighting what a contemporary Commonwealth country looks like and the dreams and lives of the children that live in them. Vanuatu was the last Pacific country to host the baton. But it was not just a relay that was held in honour of the visit – there was also a UNICEF-supported fun event held in Port Vila for children and their families to highlight the importance of play and sport in children’s development and learning. This is an issue of critical importance in Vanuatu due to challenges children face in accessing quality care and education.