Marists in Tanna, Vanuatu

1024px-TannaVolcano Mt Yasur, Tanna, Vanuatu, Oceania

Fr Ókustino Epokifoóu writes from Tanna Island, Vanuatu, where the Gospel first arrived in the 19th Century but met strong resistance. Cargo cults are still active – especially the John Frum cult.It is one of the least developed islands in Vanuatu, and one of the most populated – with some 29,000 people who live mainly from subsistence farming. The Marists were called on mission there in the 1980's.

Tanna was one of the Islands most devastated by Cyclone Pam [Category 5] in March 2015 – destroying homes, schools and Churches.The current Marist Community are Fr Eneriko Nacolarara [Sup/PP – Fiji], Okustino Epokifo'ou [VSup/Bur -Tonga], and Louis Maite [Vanuatu - Education].

Frs Okustino-front centre, Eneriko-rt of Okustino, and Louis far right: with Teachers and Parishioners

I enjoy the work here in the middle of the island in the bush where there is no electricity and water source for all the villages in this mission. I am here with Fr Eneriko and Fr Louis.I and Eneriko work in the Parish, and Louis works in the School. We rely on rain water for drinking and farming, and on our solar panel system for power.

Even though it's only Fr. Louis involved directly in teaching, I and Fr. Eneriko look at other needs of all the schools such as building classrooms and giving inputs to principals and teachers about Catholic faith discipline. Our mission here in Tanna is to help enable the life style of the people to move forward.

A joyful community in front of Mt Yasur - active volcano on Tanna

The people of Imaru and Lamlu and other mission stations still hold on strongly to their traditional custom rather than the Christian culture but most of them have already become Christians. In the area of hygiene, we need a very strong movement to change their way of life such as chewing fresh Kava and then using a flour bag to squeeze the kava. However, looking at the way they live they are too slow to change.

The reason why we grow gardens is to help the community with our daily meal and the people to learn new methods of planning their gardens. We help the people to learn how to plant crops in a way that they will have variety and continuity.

We want to help the people of our parish to be as self-sufficient as possible, as well as accepting help we need from the Provincial Administration and Projects.

We enjoy doing God's work in the footsteps of Mary - spreading the Good News of the Kingdom of God.

Fr Okustino can be contacted on facebook:       okusitino epokifoou


Des Maristes actifs dans les domaines de l'Ecologie et de l'Education

Maristes sur l'île de Tanna, Vanuatu, Océanie.

Le P. Ókustino Epokifoóu nous écrit de l'île de Tanna, au Vanuatu.L'Evangile y est parvenu au cours du 19ème siècle, mais il s'est heurté à une forte résistance. Le Culte du Cargo est toujours pratiqué activement, en particulier celui de John Frum. C'estl'une des îles les moins développées du Vanuatu en même temps que l'une des plus peuplées : elle compte 29 000 habitants qui vivent principalement d'une agriculture de subsistance. Les Maristes ont été appelés à la mission sur Tanna dans les années 1980.

Tanna est l'une des îles qui ont le plus souffert du cyclone Pam (catégorie 5) qui est passé dans la région en mars 2015. Il a détruit les habitations, les écoles et les églises. La communauté mariste comprend actuellement les Pères Eneriko Nacolarara [Supérieur et curé– Fiji], Okustino Epokifo'ou [Vice-Supérieur et Econome -Tonga], et Louis Maite [Vanuatu – Education].

Je suis heureux de travailler ici, dans cette île, au cœur de la brousse, sans électricité ni ressource en eau dans aucun des villages de la mission.Nous vivons là à trois. Je travaille avec le P. Eneriko à la paroisse, et le P. Louis a la charge de l'école. Nous utilisons l'eau de pluie pour la boisson et la culture des jardins, et nous avons un panneau solaire pour produire l'énergie électrique.

Même si le P. Louis est le seul à être directement impliqué dans l'enseignement, le P. Eneriko et moi sommes aussi attentifs à d'autres besoins des écoles, comme la construction de salles de classe, et l'apport d'éléments sur l'enseignement de la foi catholique, aux directeurs et aux enseignants. Notre mission à Tanna est de permettre aux habitants de faire évoluer leur style de vie dans le sens du progrès.

Les habitants d'Imaru et de Lamlu, comme des autres stations de la mission, sont toujours fermement attachés à leur culture traditionnelle, davantage même qu'à la tradition chrétienne, même si la plupart d'entre eux sont déjà chrétiens. Dans le domaine de l'hygiène, nous avons beaucoup de peine à changer certaines manières de faire, comme mâcher les racines fraîches du kava avant de les presser dans un sac à farine pour obtenir le kava liquide. Cependant, à voir leur manière de vivre, le changement est lent, trop lent.

Si nous avons lancé des jardins, c'est pour assurer à la communauté sa nourriture quotidienne, mais aussi pour apprendre aux gens de nouvelles méthodes pour organiser leurs propres jardins. Nous les aidons en leur apprenant à mener leurs cultures de manière à disposer de ressources plus variées et plus continues dans le temps.

Nous désirons aider nos paroissiens à être aussi auto-suffisants que possible, tout en recevant aussi l'aide de l'administration provinciale et de ses projets.

Nous sommes heureux de travailler à l'œuvre de Dieu en suivant les pas de la Vierge Marie – répandant la Bonne Nouvelle de la venue du Royaume de Dieu.

Le P. Ókustino peut être contacté sur Facebook à l'adresse   okusitino epokifoou

Refugees at General House
40 years ago - refugees in Japan
 

Comments 5

Guest - Jim Carty on Monday, 10 June 2019 10:38

What a marvellous enterprize. Life in the developed world has become so complex- if our electricity system fails as it did during a major storm in South Australia the whole state shut down causing great financial losses and disruption. So to learn of the simple but effective life in Tanna without electricity and the "comforts" of modern living may have some important lessons for us here in Australia. The simple sustainable life has much to recommend it.
warm regards
Jim

What a marvellous enterprize. Life in the developed world has become so complex- if our electricity system fails as it did during a major storm in South Australia the whole state shut down causing great financial losses and disruption. So to learn of the simple but effective life in Tanna without electricity and the "comforts" of modern living may have some important lessons for us here in Australia. The simple sustainable life has much to recommend it. warm regards Jim
Guest - Ben on Wednesday, 12 June 2019 05:47

Yes, thanks Jim, having had the privilege of living my own life in similar simple conditions for several years I couldn't agree more. Simplicity of life-style and re-connection with the gifts of nature hold a key for the future...

Yes, thanks Jim, having had the privilege of living my own life in similar simple conditions for several years I couldn't agree more. Simplicity of life-style and re-connection with the gifts of nature hold a key for the future...
Guest - Jim Carty on Monday, 10 June 2019 10:42

ps. Each New Year on New Year's eve Sydney spend 6 to 8 million dollars$ on fire-works- Tanna gets them for free and are more spectacular- but perhaps a little more dangerous - Keep safe.
Jim

ps. Each New Year on New Year's eve Sydney spend 6 to 8 million dollars$ on fire-works- Tanna gets them for free and are more spectacular- but perhaps a little more dangerous - Keep safe. Jim
Guest - Ben on Wednesday, 12 June 2019 05:49

Yes, Tanna gets them for free and the ash fall-out is what makes the Island so fertile - a win-win situation.

Yes, Tanna gets them for free and the ash fall-out is what makes the Island so fertile - a win-win situation.
Guest - Jean B. Jolly on Wednesday, 12 June 2019 16:56

Much pleased by your comment, Jim, on the fireworks in Sydney and Tanna. We have the same difference in Europe.

Much pleased by your comment, Jim, on the fireworks in Sydney and Tanna. We have the same difference in Europe.
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Saturday, 14 December 2019