Inivus is a Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) community in Wakunai District of Central Bougainville.
In the early 1900s, the SDA missionaries first landed in Bougainville at the cove where Inivus lies.
The village is quaint and its white sandy beaches stretch from miles to each coastline. The cool sea breeze and fresh smells of sea salt wafting in from the sea are overwhelming.
The cool sea breeze is so inviting and with a calming effect, you just find a sense of peace here. Inivus’s shoreline is birthed by a coral reef about 30 meters from the shoreline. It was there that we found Dau Billy pulling his canoe towards the sea and checking his net.
Dau waves a hello gesture welcoming Joyce and Ellise, the 2 World Vision Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WaSH) officers who oversee four communities. Inivus, Kepesia, Takaratabu and Kenana are all SDA communities under the Klinpela Komuniti Project (KKP).
Dau’s smile is infectious, and his very neat appearance is evident in the SDA culture embedded in Inivus.
The community and its 3 surrounding communities are all devout SDA church members; therefore, unlike many other communities in Bougainville, there are no signs of, nor sales of betelnut, cigarettes, drugs or alcohol in any form.
“I was just about to go out fishing. You’re lucky that you caught me just in time. If you were 10 minutes late, I would be out there,” Dau gestures and points towards the open sea.
Dau Billy is a KKP ‘community motivator’ and works with the World Vision WaSH Team to roll out the WaSH KKP project in Inivus and its 3 surrounding communities in Wakunai District, Central Bougainville. Dau is also a ‘Bougainville Health Program’ (BHP) volunteer and uses his two roles to advocate for a healthier Inivus community.
“I became a BHP volunteer long ago. When I started to speak to my community members about health, hygiene, and the need for toilets, no one was listening.
They did not understand. So when Joyce and Ellise from World Vision’s WaSH program came through with the Klinpela Komuniti Projek and conducted the awareness session with us and enlisted me as a ‘community motivator’ with them, the training empowered me to speak with more authority and be heard by my community” Dau explains.
“You see this clean white sandy beach, and the clean sea here” Dau motions towards the seaside where he is sitting, “this was not like this before. Before Inivus community members were openly defecating here on the beachside right here, in the sea and this area reeked of the putrid smell of faeces. It was unbearable, and we seldom had any beach events because we got sick from the smell and the big blue lungs (flies) that were always hanging around here.”
“I was compelled to do more, so when I became a community motivator with the World Vision WaSH project, I took it upon myself to lead by example. Whilst our toilets were being constructed, I introduced the ‘cat method’ to the community. Using the community funds, we bought spades and used them to dig holes in which we defecated and then covered them up. Just like how cats do.” Dau explained miming with hand gestures the digging motion in the sand.
“I am so proud to say that within 4 months of World Vision implementing the KKP project in Inivus, every single household in our community now has a toilet for their family home,” beamed Dau. “Every night when we have fellowship with our 3 neighbouring communities which gather here in Inivus, our Chief permits me 30 minutes for ‘health talk’” explained Dau.
Dau takes advantage of this nightly ‘health talk’ to give updates to the communities about the progress of health initiatives, the number of toilets constructed, and provide advice on WaSH and healthy living and lifestyles. “When we heard about COVID, at first we were afraid. But then we learned about the precautions and measures we needed to take to protect and safeguard ourselves. We already knew these as the Joyce and Ellise and the World Vision team had already shown this to us in the WaSH training and awareness session,” Dau recalled.
“I am so grateful to World Vision for their KKP WaSH Project. My family has a toilet for our home, every household in Inivus has a toilet. Our children are healthier, our beach and sea is not contaminated anymore and we can really enjoy this beachfront and use the seawater” said a grateful Dau.
Inivus, Kepesia, Takaratabu, and Kenana communities were declared Open Defecation Free (ODF) on 09th June this year. The occasion was celebrated in Invus community to the joy of all 4 communities and the World Vision WaSH KKP team. Inivus will be ODF certified in August of this year which will declare them as having met the standard criteria for ODF.
47 household s in the 4 communities now have a toilet. 69 women, 42 men and 60 children will directly benefit from the KKP WaSH project in the community.
The pitch in Dau’s voice raises a notch and it’s obvious that he is excited at what he is about to share, “Not only that, but this new lease on health, and healthy living triggered by the WVPNG WaSH project has encouraged Inivus and our 3 surrounding communities to fix up our aid post so we have an accessible health facility. I am now taking the WaSH KKP message and my ‘’health talk’ north’ to other SDA communities.”
The Klinpela Komuniti Projek is co-funded by EU, UNICEF and the PNG Government and implemented by World Vision with technical guidance from UNICEF. World Vision is working closely with 3 Districts (Wakunai, Panguna & Kieta) in Central Bougainville, and the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, Regional WaSH committees, the Provincial Health, Education are Key WaSH partners who play a key role in the sustainability of the project in Central Bougainville Region to accomplish the Central Region WaSH Plan.
Story by Rozalia Dala - Boyd
Photos by Nelson Kairi Kurukuru