2 June, 2021

Minister of Finance Johnny Koanapo Rasou (right) and ADRA Vanuatu country director Richard Greenwell at the opening ceremony

The Vanuatu government has given its full backing to the Vanuatu Mission (VM) of Seventh-day Adventist Church and the Adventist Development Relief Agency (ADRA) to establish a family counselling centre in Etas, an area south-east of the capital Port Vila.

The Elang Family Care Centre will cater to the social, physical, mental and spiritual needs of victims of violence, especially crimes, within a family setting.

The facility was opened on Sunday, May 16, by Vanuatu Minister of Finance Johnny Koanapo Rasou, director of Women’s Affairs Rothina Noka, ADRA Vanuatu country director Richard Greenwell, VM general secretary Pastor Kaio Timothy and Efate district Adventist leader, Pastor John Leeman.

Members of the community of Etas

ADRA Project Manager Danielle Masoe said the decision to locate the family centre at Etas was purely strategic.

“Etas is home to well over 3000 people from all walks of life. Through our work with the Vanuatu Correctional Services, statistics have shown that Etas would be well suited to hosting such a counselling centre.

“And it’s not just Etas. There is a burgeoning residential area in the nearby Teoumaville, which we believe will benefit immensely from such a centre,” said Ms Masoe, who has overseen Blossom, an ADRA funded program originally focused on teenage pregnancy issues since 2016.

Speaking at the opening ceremony on behalf of the Government and the Ministry of Justice and Community Services, Vanuatu Women’s Affairs (VWC) director, Mrs Noka, praised VM and ADRA for putting Christ’s teaching into action through the setting up of such a facility.

“We’ve come here to celebrate the beginning of a new journey,” said Mrs Noka.

She highlighted the results of a two-year-long program of activities developed under her tutelage since 2019 and geared towards assessing the impacts of what VWC has done, especially in the area of gender-based violence.

Mrs Noka said Elang Family Care Centre was long overdue and urged the ADRA country director Mr Greenwell, to consider expanding into other locations in the country. To her delight, Mr Greenwell confirmed ADRA’s plans to establish more centres; in Luganville, then Tanna and other provincial centres.

For now, Elang Family Care Centre is the first of its kind, apart from the Vanuatu Women’s Centre (VWC), which provides an avenue whereby victims of violence can seek counselling and advice with legal assistance.

Fully funded by ADRA, the centre will be manned daily by an ADRA-certified counselling coordinator—also a resident at Etas.

Words: Kiery Manassah

This article was originally written for and published by The Record.