Intro: French diplomats and staff of the French embassy have been invited to the community of Erakor Bridge and Council of Chiefs of Erakor Village in previous occasions. Namely community fundraisings an other official visits. More recently, in August 2022, Ekoftau and Council of Chiefs organized visited tour to the members of the AGENCE FRANÇAISE DE DÉVELOPPEMENT to the Erakor Village and Erakor Bridge. Members of the French embassy in Vanuatu and New Caledonia are well aware of the environmental activities of the Communities of Erakor Bridge and Erakor Council of Chiefs to Save the Erakor Lagoons. At this time, the community was encouraged to apply to a SPREP fund, which France is a donor, for the International Coastal Clean up. Due to formalities, considering that there is no formally registered association, the Vanuatu Climate Action Network was a beneficiary, on behalf of Erakor of Council of Chiefs, to make a clean up on the Emtem Lagoon.
Erakor Council of Chiefs and Ekoftau Environmental and Wellbeing Association recognize the generosity and Solidarity of the People who live in France, We are very pleased to have an established a friendship with People of France, French Embassy and other friend organizations such as the Association Universitaire Francophone and the educational media BRUT environment awareness video on community activities
The guided tour and conversations with the Minister, French Ambassador, and delegation: The delegation arrived at Ekoftau around 11:30 and were received at Ekoftau Community Centre. A multi-purpose stage built over in a site that was previously the Ekoftau land fill for disposal and burning of waste, including plastics.
James and Alice supported by few children of the Theatre group Natonton and their mothers who prepared some fresh fruits, offered traditional shell necklaces to welcome each delegation guests.
Hosts and guests sat on the multi-purpose community center. James briefly explained the multi diverse origins of the People of the community, the dozens of languages spoken within the Ekoftau, the social and economic challenges, how the Port Vila Central Hospital dysfunctional waste water plant is affecting live and livelihoods with direct discharging sewage into the Erakor Lagoons, children cannot swim of the waters of the Lagoon which used to be clean and blue, population growth and over fishing. How waste and pollution become a common enemy that is Uniting this Erakor Community to work together to Save the Erakor Lagoons.
James explained that the Erakor community desires to create local, nationally and international an impact, in the search of solutions to improve the Our Planet: its People and Nature.
Despite of the rain. the visit proceeded to the various vertical gardens, a site where thousands of plastic bottles collected from the Lagoons are kept together over 4 years, the seal wall of stones and mangrove plantation to protect the margins of the Lagoon from sea level rise, as an effect of the climate crisis.
The members of the delegation were able to talk with community members and witness the day to day life within of the community, the waste management and water and sanitation challenges, evidence of practical implemented ideas of recycling waste, like the last week children’s initiative to pain plastic bottles with flags of the countries on the 2022 football World Cup. The Minister and delegation were and pleased to see the amount of French flags painted in used plastic bottles,
Innovative ideas were shared that stimulated interesting discussions on how to create awareness, positive environmental ideas, how bad plastics is for Environment and Health, how the community have been trying to reduce, reuse and recycle waste. We shared real Human concerns regardless of how rich or poor. Minister mentioned several times of the responsibility of working together, developed and developing countries.
This must have inspired the Minister and the delegation as in the conclusion of the visit the Minister offered, without the community ask anything, to assist the community with:
- The construction of a traditional construction Aufare (House) to build a Environment and Wellbeing Awareness and Education Centre, a long time dream of the community.
- Assistance with am audio sound sound system to support educational activities
- Finance the French translation of the Children’s Book
4. Support the production of a film / documentary on the stories of the community and Vanuatu as an inspiration to the European societies about Actions, Resilience and an the story of a a community and a country that believes that have the power to Protect the Environment, improve Wellbeing of the Community and Save the Planet.
We feel happy and hopeful for the Future and how sharing ideas,cooperation and partnerships can make a real difference.
Erakor Council of Chiefs and Ekoftau Community is looking forward to continue to work with the French People to improve the Planet and the Wellbeing of its People!