A map of Luganville.

It has been almost ten years since I moved my life to Espirtu Santo, a remote island in the northern provinces of Vanuatu. I had taken up a volunteer assignment with Volunteer Service Abroad (VSA) New Zealand’s government volunteer agency to help develop the very poor, under resourced preschools. I had little idea of what to expect, but found myself living in a shanty town called Luganville. The town was relatively isolated from the rest of the world, and had developed in its own vacuum. The majority of the town’s population lived under the one dollar a day poverty line.

Much of the population of Santo lived off the land. With limited access to electricity, the internet and tertiary education, life for some people and in particular women, was difficult. Women in most villages had low status, limited voice and few rights. Domestic violence was very common, with reports showing it occurring in 50-80 percent of families.

The top mode of transport in Luganville was on foot, and I found my self walking the streets of the town for many hours each day, often leaving my apartment two or three hours before arriving at my destination across town. Here is a hand drawn map of Luganville.map.jpeg

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