The Great Vava’u Clean-up

When you walk around Vava’u today, the island is immaculate.  It hasn’t been this clean since the King’s Coronation last August.  There is no litter in site, all the yards are mowed, junk has been taken out of the yards and the sidewalks in the main town of Neiafu are spotless.

My landlord and his family have been spending hours every day working in the yard, planting flowers and scrubs, weeding and even putting Tongan flags on ribbons across the front of my home.

Steve's Peace Corps HouseAs this photo of my house shows, both the house and the yard look great and I had nothing to do with it. 

Last week was National Environmental Awareness Week and all across Tonga, students were encouraged to learn about the environment, pollution and renewable energy.  Here in Vava’u, the Tonga Development Bank, where I work, awarded a TOP $250.00 prize to the winner of a contest among all the high schools .   Each team had to answer questions and the team that got the most correct answers got the check.

Enviroment Awareness Week Vava’u High School won the competition and walked away with the money.

So it might be a natural conclusion to assume that the reason the island looks so great is because of National Environment Awareness Week.  Unfortunately, that is not the case.

The Tongan Princess, the sister of the King, is visiting Vava’u this week and the reason that everything  is spotless has everything to do with her visit and little to do with Environment Week..   She is visiting both outer villages and the main city.  In the case of my neighborhood, I live just a block from the Vava’u Royal Palace so my Tongan neighbors want to make sure everything is clean as she comes and goes during her stay.

It would be nice if the island could stay this clean and I’m sure the focus on the environment in the schools last week will help, but unfortunately there are no easy solutions.   In my opinion, the biggest problem is that nothing that is imported to Vava’u ever leaves here.  All of the cans, bottles, cars, oil, tires, etc that are brought here in the name of progress stay here forever.  All this stuff is either burned or put in junk piles.   Until there is a viable recycling program and until there is island-wide garbage collection and garbage bins, the problem will remain.

Leave me a Voice Mail

I’ve been playing around with a new service called Google Voice.   With this service it is now possible for me to send and receive free text messages to and from the USA.   I can also receive voice mail in Tonga that you leave for me on my Florida phone number.

If you want to send me a voice greeting, and it’s always great to hear a friendly voice, just click on the icon below and  enter your phone number.   Your phone will ring and you’ll be connected to my voice mail which I will get in Tonga.  There is no charge for you to do this as long as you live in the USA.

Unfortunately, it still costs money to place a live International phone call to Tonga but it’s nice for me to be able to able to listen to any messages you want to leave.

And my Vava’u mobile phone number is also changing.  All the phones are being converted from five digit numbers to seven digit numbers.   That means my number is now 676-75-12566.  You can still dial it without the 75 but am not sure when that will stop.

Peter’s Photo

Here’s a photo of my landlord’s grandson Peter.   He is a great kid and has really warmed up to me.  When I first moved here, I think he was a little intimidated by me.  Now, he comes over and jokes around.

Pita TupouWhen I took the photo of the house that is pictured above, Peter spotted me and immediately ran over and posed for this photo.   It’s also interesting to see how much he has grown in the past 15 months since I last posted a photo of him.

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