A custom chief in North East Ambae, Chief Luke Haga has advised his young people to think carefully before travelling to New Zealand or Australia to work for money.
Chief Haga warns that if chiefs keep endorsing applications by their young men and women to travel in search of money overseas, the trend stands the risk of cutting the traditional knowledge of custom from being passed from the parents to their sons and daughters.
Asked about those who live in Port Vila and Luganville, he says, “My message is to those who live in the village because they still have their lands and their lands should be turned into the same money that they want to travel to earn overseas,” he explains.
The chief says with children’s academic studies throughout the year, already it is becoming a challenge for parents to nurture their children in the ways of weaving for example.
He says what the general public do not understand is that on Ambae alone, the shortage of traditional red mat that is used in custom wedding and pig killing ceremonies, is as a result of the rising demand for the mat and a diminishing supply because the number of weavers is not increasing to meet the demand.
The chief is appealing to young girls to make use of all available time especially during their end of year school holidays, to sit with their mothers to teach them how to weave and learn the entire processes to the end product of a red mat.
Not only that but he also predicts a shortage of manpower in the village to carry out physical tasks including cutting firewood, cutting new gardens and working copra, if chiefs in villages go ahead to endorse their people’s applications to go to work abroad.
He says with the Government’s emphasis to plant more agricultural produce for the household and for sale, more young men and women are needed at home to fulfill their duties.
The chief says if we are not careful, those who work under RSE and SWP can come home with lots of money only to continue to buy processed foods and meats for their homes and communities to promote non communicable diseases.