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.