WHEN WE (Officers from Transparency International Vanuatu) were visiting communities on the island of Malekula we caught up with a youth participant who took part in the first ever 2013 Vanuatu National Youth Parliament.
We met him across the Vesle House building near the Lakatoro Trading Centre amid showers of rain. He had ran across the street to greet us, giving a little time away from his busy schedule that afternoon.
His name is Morry Reuben, he had been busy painting popular internet icons inside a soon to open internet Café at Lakatoro, the first of its kind in Malekula.
We would later learn of his involvement in the setting up of this new internet café that will cater to promote youth development in the proper and productive use of the internet.
We met him again when Transparency International Vanuatu organized the Right To Information Public Consultation at the Wilkins Stadium Conference Room, and we asked him what their team’s visions are on the future of their youth oriented Internet Café.
“The Internet Café will be established as a fund generating mechanism for future youth projects” he explains, “with the income that we receive we plan to use it to move us around Malekula so that we can train young people in Malekula to up-skill them on how to properly use new technologies like emails, Facebook, and other forms of new ideas that are developing rapidly in this era.”
He continued to stress that he and his youth associates plan to develop a Mobile Team that will go out to the communities to train young people how to properly use the internet. But this could only be achieved, Morry stresses, “after the financial arm of this youth initiative has been developed and strengthened,” and this is where the Internet Café comes in.
The Internet Café will raise funds when members of the public pay small fees to use their computers or to access the internet, also funds will be raised through ad developments, membership fees and through other fundraising activities.
Morry is not new to youth oriented activities, he was a participant in the 2013 Vanuatu National Youth Parliament in which Transparency International Vanuatu helped to organize. During that event he was a member of the Parliamentary Youth Opposition, and was vocal on climate change adaptation issues and how new developments are affecting natural habitats on his home island of Malekula.
“The Youth Parliament gave me a lot of courage,” he acknowledges, “after the Youth Parliament I returned home and when people asked me about my experience I was ready to share with them the real duties of a Member of Parliament – which is to make laws.”
His experience in youth activism led him to become the Acting Malampa Youth President from 2013 to 2014. His new responsibilities did not force him to stop there, but it motivated him to continue to move on, he explains confidently, “to greener pastures”. He pointed out that “the Youth Parliament experience helped me to go for further training at the Australia Pacific Technical College (APTC).”
After almost six months of training he graduated in 2015 with a Certificate Four in Community Development at the APTC.
He attended the Right To Information Public Forum, which was organized by Transparency International Vanuatu at the Wilkins Stadium conference room on the 4th of April, along with three other young people from his group.
At the end of the forum he explained briefly why he chose to support the Right To Information Bill, “the whole idea behind this Internet Café initiative is to promote good development through information sharing,” he pointed out, “and the Right To Information Bill, when it becomes law, will help us out a lot in our area of development because it will give us the right to access information that can help to develop young people in our communities.”
He further pointed out that they have plans to use social media to store information so that people can access it whenever they want to, and wherever they are, “those are our long-term plans” he coincided. Morry, and his fellow associates, are the administrators of the Tokbaut Malekula forum on Facebook which has over 2,000 members.
They also acknowledge the contributions of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition MP Sato Kilman who donated five computers for their Internet Café, along with a Network Computing system that will cater for six users simultaneously. MP Sato Kilman is also assisting them by providing the space that they are now currently using to develop and promote their initiative, they are currently occupying the last room on the far right side of the Vesle House building.
This Internet Café is being driven by seven young people who are part of a bigger youth group based in Malekula and Port Vila.
“To start something we must not think inside the box, but we need to also get advice from other young people on what they think should be done with regards to proper youth development,” Morry says.
He concluded our short conversation by stating that “it is a new idea that we are all new at, we know that there are areas where we will fail at, but at least we are not doing nothing. We are moving forward.”
Morry later followed us to Unmet, Brenwei and the Lakatoro Market House where he talked in support of the Right To Information Bill.