Adam’s testimony at site and Trash Project.
Peace Corps Health Volunteer Adam S arrived on Siviri Village, North Efate, on July 3 2017. Shortly after his arrival, Adam realized that the people at Siviri were very open and like to laugh.
Adapting was not too much of an issue because in terms of culture, he compares the Vanuatu culture very similar to Hispanic culture, a lot of banter and joking around, something he was use to growing up in New York. “If you’re not messing around with someone that means you’re not friends” explained Adam. Overall, Adam admits that having an open mind set plays a vital role when it comes to adapting.
As much of a job as Peace Corps is, Adam discovers that it’s not about work, it’s not about volunteering but it’s about living. That’s how he builds relationships and integrates with the people in his community. “You go to the bush with them, you drink kava with them, and you laugh and cry with them. It’s about having a relationship on a human level” says Adam with a smile on his face. Adam is very much liked in his community and establishing that type of bond sets the foundation for success both personally and professionally.
Adam has engaged in various projects for his community at Siviri, not to mention his biggest project currently is the trash project. In general, municipal trash bags are brought in from Port Vila and are sold in little shops around the village at VT100 a piece. Already the community has built raised trash beds around the village where trash bags are placed when ready for collection. Whenever there is a decent amount of trash collected, they hire a truck in the village to have the trash moved to the main landfill at Etas. In the meantime they are looking to purchase a garbage truck of their own and get a formal business license which in turn will create 5-10 new jobs in the village and sustainable income. In fact, there are already 8 villages and 2 schools who are interested in joining Adam’s trash program, which eventually may result in a fully-fledged North Efate Trash system.
Adam’s motivation to drive this trash projects forward comes from how poorly waste was managed in his village. And so he thought this project, with the support of his community, will over time educate them on the importance of waste management and in the long run, help improve their health and hygiene standards. “Keeping Vanuatu clean is the best thing this country and its people can do for itself” he added.
Overall, being the youngest in his family of 3 siblings, the youngest in his class and the youngest in his group (G.29) proves the statement that someone once told him that he always acted like he had a point to prove, which is what motivates and drives him despite the challenges faced as a volunteer. He finds that overcoming challenges is always rewarding. Adam has learnt a lot about himself during his time at site and being at site has shown him just how adaptable he can be. He further explains that “A year ago, I would have laughed at the thought of opening a dry coconut with a spike in the ground”.
His final words of encouragement were, “Don’t expect anything. Have zero expectations. Somethings are easy, some hard, somedays you want to hide and others you just want to be out there. If you have plans for projects at your site, get it all out of your head, don’t make any plans. It doesn’t matter what you want to do, it only matters what your community wants” – something he learnt from Peace Corps Volunteer Laura L. on day one when she drove him to site and thought was worth sharing with his fellow comrades in the field of service.