Vanuatu Music Revival Project 2015

Here is a short clip I made for the Vanuatu Tourism Board to encourage the return of tourism to this beautiful country after the devastation of the cyclone last year. It was made whilst working on the The Vanuatu Music Revival Project and documentary, and offers a taste of what is to come in the documentary if you’d like a sneak peek!

The Vanuatu Music Revival Project is a grass-roots aid mission working to bring music and smiles back to those who lost their instruments in the devastation of cyclone PAM in March 2015.

We put out a nationwide call for donations of pre-loved guitars and ukuleles, which were gathering dust around people’s homes. These instruments were transported up to Vanuatu by a number of volunteer sailing yachts leaving the shores of Aotearoa and were passed personally into the hands of those in need.

From this simple concept, the project continued to grow with the support of musical communities around New Zealand who also believe in the transformative healing power of music. Folk and ukulele groups from around the country got together to raise funds for new instruments and to repair second-hand ones for this initiative. It gradually became a community-to-community support project.

This is the second aid mission for Vanuatu that New Zealander Rowena Baines has initiated. The first successful mission named ‘Project Vanuatu Education Outreach’ took place in 2008, when educational materials were sent up via sailboats to many under-resourced schools across the islands of Vanuatu.

Although educational resources are still lacking, this time the organisers Rowena Baines and her partner Tomas Brescacin have a cultural focus. Music can play a vital role during disaster recovery. In undeveloped countries such as Vanuatu, music is a huge part of village activities from celebrations and rituals to everyday gatherings, which unite members of the community. Music and song are powerful tools of self-expression and healing.

Mckenzie Kalotiti, the Consul General of Vanuatu recently said: “Music is the fibre of our community. It’s part of our identity”. It is for this reason that we chose guitars and ukuleles, which are already part of their string-band culture, to bring a little normality back into the lives of those hardest hit by the cyclone.

NOTE: We are in great need of assistance in transporting over fifty instruments, which, due to bad weather conditions, ended up in New Caledonia instead of Vanuatu. If you know of anyone leaving Noumea for Vanuatu this season (2016), please get in contact with us. Even if the boat can only carry a few.

* We are in need of sponsorship for this next stage of the project. The delivery of the remaining 55 instruments to Vanuatu in winter 2016!
Please deposit any donations into this account with the words ‘VMR project’ : ASB bank, 12-3095-0204615-01

Please help spread the word!!! Please like and share our Facebook page to keep in the loop and spread the word: https://www.facebook.com/VanuatuMusicRevival

Contact: rowenabaines@gmail.com (021)2746688

Thank you!

Vanuatu Music Revival Project Documentary

A documentary began to develop around the Vanuatu Music Revival Project.
People were interested in how a grass-roots project like this is initiated and seen through to completion. I was also particularly interested in the stories behind the instruments and the connection to Vanuatu, music or the instruments that motivated people to donate them. For this reason we started documenting the project in New Zealand and then followed the instruments up to their new homes on the various islands throughout Vanuatu. We filmed the magical interactions between the visiting musicians and circus performers of the Drifting Circus and the local musicians and circus performers we met along the way. You’ll see a few stills from the voyage below.

A documentary like this shows that you don’t have to fly to Africa to help make a change in the world. Aid work can start a lot closer to home, using your own contacts and motivation. It will also show that music is an international language and allows people from different tongues to communicate in a positive and creative way. It will also inspire you to explore the world by yacht, with no carbon footprint, seeking cultural exchanges along the way.

For those of you who want to see this documentary made and want to contribute to enable us to make enough of a start that we can then go for further funding, we’d love your help. At this stage we need to buy external hard-drives for the editing. Please deposit any donations into this account with the words ‘VMR doco’: ASB bank, 12-3095-0204615-01

St Jude to the rescue!!!!

St Jude to the rescue!!!! The wonderful crew on sailing vessel ‘St Jude’ (also part of the Drifting Circus/Alternative Sailing Community) just rescued 9 ukuleles and a guitar belonging to our project, which got stranded in New Caledonia last year…

July 10, 2016

The editing phase has begun!

I can hardly believe we were amongst this explosion of colour, music and performance on the island of Mota Lava, northern Vanuatu in November of last year. We’d like to share a few stills with you, taken from the latest…

May 27, 2016

Off to Vanuatu for the Vanuatu Music Revival Project

NEWS FLASH!!! We cannot take any more instruments this year for the Vanuatu Music Revival Project. The boats are full! We are thrilled to take the seventy instruments that we have managed to collect, so much gratitude for all the…

September 3, 2015

Project VEO (Vanuatu Education Outreach) 2008

55 twenty-five kilogram boxes of educational materials collected and distributed

29 sailing yachts involved in transporting the boxes to the outer islands of Vanuatu

55 Primary and Secondary schools aided throughout the 82 islands of Vanuatu

20 Sponsors who donated ESL books, stationary, educational material and printing

25 Volunteers who made this project happen

2500 text books and reading books donated

Project VEO was inspired by my experience in Vanuatu in 2005. While there, I took some stationary supplies to a school at Port Resolution on the island of Tanna, and saw how little the teachers have to work with there. It was like offering a drip of water to a desert.

Not only are they lacking in stationary supplies but they have very few resources to teach from and have not always received sufficient training.

There are 82 remote islands in Vanuatu, each with their own culture and language. The common language is Bislama, yet they need English to communicate with the rest of the world and progress as a country.

For this reason, Project VEO was focused on collecting and sending donated ESL educational material to the secondary schools, along with children’s reading journals, story books, dictionaries and school atlases to the secondary and primary schools.

Thanks to many English language schools throughout Auckland I received donations of around 2000 used text books.

Donations of around 500 school journals/atlases/children’s storybooks were received from publishers and stationary suppliers in Auckland.

These books plus additional stationary were packed into 55 boxes and delivered to Opua marina in the Bay of Islands into the willing hands of sailors heading to Vanuatu who personally ensured the material got to the designated school assigned.

I spent the month of July 2008 sailing with the crew of QOVOP to some remote villages on the islands of Malekula, Ambrym and Efate to personally deliver books and wall maps to the schools. A dozen boxes had been kindly flown up to the main city Port Vila by the RNZAF on our behalf and we took them the step further to the outer islands. The teachers were so very grateful for our efforts and the children were so excited to receive new books.

Other yachts have also delivered the books and sent comments and photos which I will post in the gallery below.

Firstly I was in touch with the Minister of Education in Vanuatu along with various NGO voluntary organisations and received a list of all the schools on the various islands of Vanuatu.

Spread sheets were then created to ensure the right English level and combination of materials got packed into the right box and delivered to the right yacht sailing to end up on the right island.

I am still receiving hand-written letters and occasionally emails from teachers on remote islands of Vanuatu thanking us for our efforts and requesting more material in future years, so any sailors who would prefer to take atlas’, dictionaries and encyclopaedias up to the islands instead of instruments this year, please feel free to organise your own collection and make it happen!