Recognized Seasonal Employment (RSE) workers on Epi have invested around Vt8 million of their hard-earned money to fund a new fully furnished doctor’s house at Vaemali Health Center and handed it over to the Government.
After handing the key to the Ministry of Health (MOH), the RSE workers ask that the government appoint a doctor to live in the house and serve the medical needs of the people on the island.
Lack of decent housing and support facilities is one factor discouraging doctors and health workers from working in rural areas. On the other hand, the government is also trying to fix the problem of doctor shortage.
Powered by a 520 watt solar system, the new doctor’s house at Vaemali has three bedrooms, mattresses even bedsheets, a kitchen equipped with utensils, bathroom and laundry area and furniture so any lucky doctor assigned to the health centre does not have to worry about buying and transporting furniture.
Speaking to the Daily Post on behalf of the RSE workers, Ambata Oli from Lamenu Island said: “We all were recruited to work for the Birdhurt Limited, a fruit picking company in New Zealand (NZ).
“There are very high standard hospitals in where we work. We want to upgrade our health centre with infrastructure to that same level so that it can bring positive changes to the health of our people.
“We want to give back to our community and help others who don’t get the chance to travel and work in NZ like us.
“We came up with the idea to set up a trust fund after cyclone Pam which has brought damage to the health clinic in 2015. Every day we set aside a small portion of our daily income for the fund.
“Everyone who was recruited to work for Birdhurt over the past three years contributed. The fund is still growing and we have other plans”.
Mr Oli said they came up with the Vaemali Project to support plans in place to upgrade the health centre to a mini-hospital
Vaemali effectively operatesd as an hospital during the colonial period. It was later downgraded to an health centee.
The Manager of Birdhurst Packhouse, who manages the project on behalf of the RSE workers with the coordination of Mr Oli came from NZ with his wife for the recent opening ceremony and handing over to the government.
RSE workers from each village were also there to see the result of their commitment.
RSE workers from other countries, such as Samoa, the owner of Birdhurst Limited the Wilkins Family, the local foreman and builders as well as others who contributed to realize the project were applauded for their assistance.