Here are some details about what I will be doing in North Ambae for the next two years. If nerdy things like accounting and financial management bore you then this might not be the post for you. Scroll down to find more interesting stories :)
My official title is Business and Community Development Advisor, and I am assigned to the North Ambae Women's Group (NAWG). The women in Quatamwele and surrounding villages have come together to sell woven mats, baskets, folders, and other beautiful products with the help of a former volunteer. But the volunteer who originally helped the women was not a business volunteer, so now they want someone to come and help them straighten out the business aspect of their organizion. I will be advising them on basic book-keeping, financial management, marketing techniques, and providing support for new product development. I'm really lucky to be walking into a group that is so well organized and motivated and the former volunteer did a great job of setting up the program. I'm really excited because it seems like the current needs of NAWG pretty much fit my strenghts and I think this could be a really productive assignment.
With a couple exceptions, business volunteers this year have either been sent to work with branches of National Bank of Vanuatu or with the provincial government, so their assignments are a little more structured than mine, but I really believe in this project and I feel really blessed to be able to go with it. Here is a small excerpt from my job description from the Peace Corps:
"Globally women contribute greatly to poverty reduction, economic growth and private sector development. Peace Corps believes empowering women leads to increased social well-being. Women in Vanuatu are crucial contributors to society and are perceived to hold the family and communities together."
Pretty exciting stuff! I will be getting to work with the mamas one on one to enhance their personal finance capabilities and also with the group as a whole. I have met some of the women in the group and they are really wonderful people. I'm looking forward to learning more about local products and also about women's special role in Vanuatu society. Not to mention all the beautiful island dresses I'm sure I'll be wearing at my site :)