IT IS STORIES like this that make you realize the true meaning of independence, and why we should have already delivered vital resources to the most remotest parts of Vanuatu;
“This is the first time for me to see the Constitution of Vanuatu” expressed an elder from Tseriviu community who has continued to run his Aid Post at Tseriviu in the Big Bay area of Santo since the early 80’s.
He not only saw the Vanuatu Constitution, but Transparency International Vanuatu (TIV) made sure that he went home with one. His name is Thomas Palo, and he is well over seventy years old but has continued to practice and put his medical skills into good use.
For the isolated communities of Big Bay on the island of Santo Thomas is more than just an ordinary villager, he is a live saver. Though he is clearly well over the retired age Thomas is still strong and continues to address his people’s medical needs.
“When I was still young I studied nursing at the PMH (Paton Memorial Hospital) at Iririki from 1955 to 1957” he recalled. “In 1957 I finished my studies and returned to Big Bay and served under the Presbyterian Church Mission here before I was transferred to go and work under the British Government” he says.
He served as a medical provider under the British Government for a good number of years up until the late seventies, “I finished working with British Government in 1977. And in 1981, a year after we achieved independence I started the Aid Post here at Big Bay. Since then, I have served now for 35 years at the Aid Post” he said with an accomplished look on his face.
“I started the Aid Post and I have worked from it until today” he explained. “I have no salary. If I vaccinate you now, you pay me a hundred vatu, and that is all I need. I get my medical supplies from the pharmacy at the Northern District Hospital in Luganville.”
At that point in the conversation another villager came in to confirm that Thomas does not receive any official wages, only the villagers supply him with necessary necessities, “to try and make up for his unpaid years of hard work” he added, “ and yet he continues to help all the people in the area of Big Bay.”
Transparency International Vanuatu officers met with Thomas after a Right To Information awareness session that was held at his community in late June 2016. His story is remarkable and shows true independency and a commitment to serve the nation against challenging odds.
THIS CITIZEN DESERVES RECOGNITION, HE DESERVES A MEDAL.
As we move closer towards celebrating Vanuatu’s 36th Independence Anniversary we must also keep in mind that there are hundreds, or if not thousands, of citizens out there who have, and still are, serving the country in their own special ways like Mr. Thomas