Who knew that my experiences in science communication, technology, media, human rights, sustainable development and participatory theatre would combine for an assignment in the South Pacific?
Last month I arrived in Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu, to be a digital trainer with Wan Smolbag Theatre. Wan Smolbag is core funded by Oxfam, NZ Aid and Australian Aid. It began more than 25 years ago touring Pacific islands with one small bag of costumes, making participatory theatre for health promotion. It has expanded massively, now also coordinating a turtle monitoring network, reproductive health clinics, youth and nutrition centres, sports programs, disaster preparedness, health and environment resources and waste management projects.
It’s refreshing getting back into grassroots development after my work in Melbourne and Geneva over the past couple of years. It’s also fantastic to enjoy life by the ocean again – during high school I worked at my local surf shop. Vanuatu’s opportunities for surfing, kayaking and diving as well as fantastic tropical fruits make it a place I’m happy to live.
I’m continuing to do research and writing in science communication and health promotion with universities in Australia. I’m aiming to do digital training here related to a range of organizations I’ve been involved with in the past, including OpenStreetMap, Wikipedia and Mozilla. Firstly though I’m focused on local needs and interests. For example, I’m helping with World Oceans Day activities next week. This week I’m travelling around the island of Efate documenting Healthforce, the health promotion theatre group, and Rainbow disability theatre. Most digital work I’m supporting at the moment is making publications including comic books and posters about health and environmental issues, written in Bislama and focused on visual communication for island communities.