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VSA volunteers share their knowledge

Monday March 12, 2018 Written by Published in Local
Pictured at Muri this week were (from left) Mike Mills, Hilary Boyes, Hana Kashkari, Christie Raymond and Annika Lane. Absent is Vicky Clark. 18030803 Pictured at Muri this week were (from left) Mike Mills, Hilary Boyes, Hana Kashkari, Christie Raymond and Annika Lane. Absent is Vicky Clark. 18030803

The Volunteer Service Abroad programme manager for Polynesia and Kiribati, Diane Thorne-George has completed a week-long visit to check in with the latest group of volunteers in the Cook Islands.

 

Victoria Clark, Annika Lane, Hilary Boyes, Christie Raymond and Hana Kashkari currently work with the Office of the Prime Minister, Infrastructure Cook Islands and Cook Islands Family and Welfare Association on a number of projects.

Thorne-George said it was all about the sharing of knowledge.

She added that the group was assisted on Rarotonga by James Puati, a point of contact for the volunteers while they are here in the Cook Islands.

 “James is our in-country orientation provider. Volunteers are met by James, settled into home, language and culture lessons, given information about living and working in the Cooks: all of the things you need to know when you live in a new country.

“James keeps in contact and will provide ongoing language lessons. He is our person on the ground and our volunteers really appreciate the great welcome and initiation to the Cook Islands that he gives.”

Thursday was International Women’s Day, and Thorne-George said VSA often had women volunteering alongside other women in leadership roles.

“We often have a really nice focus on supporting those women who are in leadership roles, for example Jaime Short at WATSAN.”

Thorne-George said an on-going problem for VSA is losing skilled locals to better paid jobs overseas.

“It is important that we meet the needs of the community. When we form a partnership with either a ministry or a non-government organisation (NGO) in whatever country we are involved in, we wouldn’t want to see people coming to do the same job over and over again,

“It is all about the handover of skills, empowering local people to be able to do the job,” she said.

There are currently two Cook Islands assignments in the pipeline, with candidate interviews being held in New Zealand.

“One is with the Ministry of Education working alongside the Cook Islands Tertiary Training Institute, while the other is to replace the current water engineer working alongside the Office of the Prime Minister and ICI.”

Thorne-George also mentioned that Mike Mills, husband of current volunteer Annika Lane is likely to also begin work later this year as a volunteer youth programme advisor with the Cook Islands Police Service.