Ambae’s retired Master’s Degree holder Amon Kwero has joined two paramount chiefs of Ambae; Port Vila resident Chief John Tarilama of Freshwater and Chief Jacques Sese of Lolosori Village in North Ambae, to urge the Government to not relocate their schools to Santo or Maewo.
They believe Ambae students won’t receive the quality of education that they receive from their own schools on their own island.
Kwero from West Ambae who spent his life time in Education joined his custom chiefs to express the common concern on behalf of all parents and people of West Ambae, to the Minister of Health, Jack Norris and his First Political Adviser, Luna Tasong, during their most recent visit to the West, North and East Ambae.
As a newcomer to the island, the First PA described the natural vegetation as returning fast in some areas and somewhat slower in other areas including North West and North Ambae.
“The message we have received from the people on Ambae is an invitation to chiefs and Government leaders to go to Ambae and meet with the people on the ground to hear their stories before talking to the media, to avoid spreading confusion which they do not need at this time”, the First PA explained.
In West Ambae, the minister and his team visited the Health Centre and met with both staff and patients.
“Chiefs of West Ambae thanked the minister for being the first to visit them after the ash fall and asked him to encourage other Ministers to also visit them to see firsthand what the situation is like on the ground, before boarding a flight to Longana Airport.
In East Ambae, the minister attended a meeting with chiefs and Penama Provincial Officials at Saratamata at which three representatives of chiefs, people living with a disability and investors spoke.
“They spoke from the heart, pleading with the Government not to decide for them where they should go,” he said.
“Instead they want the government to sit with them to hear them out and help facilitate where they want to go and how to go about it, to continue to live together to maintain their customs, culture and traditions”.
Chiefs in the East also advised against relocating their schools to Santo and Maewo and joined their colleagues in West Ambae to caution leaders against spreading confusion and rumours about life on the ground. “Please tell them to come home and see for themselves to avoid spreading false information to the wider public”, the First PA reported the chiefs as saying.
They would not be able to continue with their way of life on another island and would prefer a temporary stay at a different place on their island and to return to their original homes at the right time.
The leaders presented the minister with a number of petitions which he assured them he would present to the relevant Ministers on his return to Port Vila.
The minister visited Lolowai Hospital where he donated a truck and a boat to assist the staff to improve service delivery.
The minister was assured by the staff that there were no suspicious cases that could link the victims to the recent volcanic ash fall apart from coughing. WHO advised them to boil water before drinking.
“The minister’s message to the staff is clear that if the worst comes to the worst then the staff of the Ministry of Health would be the last to leave the island after every other person has left”, the First PA said.