Sunday, October 10, 2010


hey everyone
Alex and I are heading back to the island tomorrow on the cargo ship. it's been okay in Port Vila but we are anxious to get back to the island. We hear our cat on the island is missing, so wish us the best of luck finding her. We plan to be on the island until March. We will be blogging regularly on the island (no internet) and will get the blogs posted when we get back to Port Vila in March. We'll take lots of pictures too!

We wrote an article for the Peace Corps Vanuatu volunteer newsletter about our project and the work we have been doing for the last year:

"PHAST is a water and sanitation workshop that was developed by the World Health Organization and the World Bank/UNDP (field tested by Peace Corps!) as a tool to promote hygiene and sanitation at the village level.

Here's our PHAST story...Arriving at site, our community had made it clear that they would appreciate our attention being given to water supply issues. Our health surveys indicated hygiene and sanitation should be addressed. We did not see much value in education and we both agreed that environmental improvements alone wasn't sustainable. We needed a way to energize our community, to get them excited about water and sanitation. Well, maybe not excited - but at least get them talking about water and sanitation.

Our friend and fellow PCV, Billy Delancey, was having a similar experience at his site. He called our community health program APCD Sara Lightner for guidance and she suggested investigating PHAST. Billy did the legwork, he met with World Vision, the only folks we are aware of that were currently carrying out PHAST workshops in Vanuatu. Billy familiarized himself with PHAST and introduced it to the community health volunteers during a PST II presentation. We were intrigued by PHAST's participatory methods and wanted to try the workshop in our community.

We had one major problem though, we needed pictures - lots of pictures. The backbone of the PHAST workshop is the pictures, country-specific pictures. The workshop is unique in that there is no reading, writing or 'talking at' the participants. We, as facilitators, simply give the participants piles of pictures and ask them to be sorted in particular ways - use these pictures to create a story about your community, do you consider these hygiene and sanitation practices to be good or bad?, use these pictures to create a story about how this poo gets to this persons mouth, put these sanitation practices in order from worst to best. Things like that. The picture sorting gives the community the opportunity for meaningful dialogue concerning their hygiene and sanitation. World Vision, an NGO working in Vanuatu, had the pictures, but their pictures were not, at that time, available for use by other organizations. We considered stealing the pictures, but that idea was quickly shot down by Sara. We had only one choice - we had to create another set of PHAST pictures. We called fellow PCV and our artist friend Amy Orr and she graciously agreed to meet us in Port Vila a few days early (before an IST) to create a toolkit. We sat down and created about 80 pictures.

We took the pictures back to our communities and tested them during 3 different week-long PHAST workshops. Most of the pictures worked great, but some - like the man openly defecating then digging a hole afterwards to bury his poo and the pig tied to the coconut tree failed miserably. Our communities pointed out to us that in Vanuatu, one digs the hole first, that way you don't have to move the poo into the hole; and one would not typically tie a pig to a coconut tree as that means that someone has to walk through pig poo to collect coconuts.

Throughout the course of these three workshops we fell in love with the PHAST methodology and became a bit evangelical of its merits. We did a PHAST presentation at the PEACE program's in-service training. Several PEACE volunteers expressed interest in the workshop. We decided to go forward with the project. We met with Amy a second time, this time on her island, and 'fixed' about 30 pictures that were not saying what we had intended them to say. With the improved pictures from our preliminary testing, we put together 5 additional PHAST toolkits and sent them out with Peace Corps volunteers to each of the provinces for additional testing.

After the pictures are tested throughout the country and adjusted as necessary, we are hoping to laminate a number of toolkits and make them available to PCVs and anyone else that wants to PHAST. If you think doing a PHAST is for you and you want to be a part of testing the pictures, please call the folks with the pictures in your province and they can send the pictures your way!

SHEFA- Lauren
TAFEA- Arthur

If you want to stori with us about the PHAST:
Alex Amorin
Lucas Obringer"

Saturday, October 2, 2010

October 2nd

Happy October 2nd everyone.

Just finished meeting with some guys from our district about a grant they've been working on. We had to create a timeline for their proposed project - building a cement water tank with money from Australia.

Felt a decent earthquake today, it wasn't a hard shake, but it lasted for a while.

Alex is doing well. She went snorkeling with girlfriends today. No snorkeling for me as I dropped a bush knife on my foot while getting off the bus on Thursday. Had to get three stitches on the top of my big toe. Right foot. The Peace Corps doctor says I should be able to get the stitches out in a week.

Spent yesterday with my foot propped up in bed, working on a PHAST PowerPoint presentation for the new volunteers early service conference - which will happen in February.