Tuesday, January 7, 2014

How giving back can be the most rewarding experience of ones life

Written by Desiree Tibbs, NorthWest Sales Manager, Dolphin Adventues (a U.S. Tour operator): I have visited Vanuatu twice,  to Port Vila and Espiritu Santo, but it is the island of Tanna that has stolen my heart.  When I went to Tanna in 2012, I was able to visit Lowinia Kustom Village as one of the very special tour offerings from the White Grass Resort.  It was a new tour, beautifully handled by Annie (the Chief's wife), see in the photo with me.  At the time I asked her if she ever thought about all the children going to school?  
She said probably not in her life time but she hoped most definitely in her children's lifetime.  I had the opportunity to return a year later and Annie told us she wanted to start a school in her Village for the children. That was in August 2013.  . I told her that I would help her start her school. After returning to the U.S, I started gathering school supplies. Within a few weeks 2 boxes of school supplies were sent to Annie, each weighing over 40lbs. There was hundreds of pencils, paper, markers, glue, scissors, tape, etc.  Most of these items were purchased and donated by friends who were interested in Annie’s Village.

After about a month I emailed White Grass Resort to see if they had heard if the boxes had arrived. Nicola, the Manager said she would check into it for me.  She spread the word around the island that there was 2 boxes full of school supplies somewhere for Annie and the Village. Within 3 days they were found and Annie had them. It didn't take Annie very long after she got the supplies to open her school. In the U.S. this would have taken years. Instead this little village out in no-where opened a school within months. It's amazing! 

Some of the school supplies were for older children so Annie shared them with other schools in Tanna that needed supplies.   Every school supply was used. I received a wonderful letter of thanks from Annie letting me know how much she appreciated all the supplies and how much they helped. 

After I got the letter I posted it on my Facebook page about the school and that before long I had even more supplies.  This time I was sending things to play games with at school and more school items. Friends, clients, and everyone I told about the Lowinia Village wanted to help in some way.  Since then I have received books, balls, little cars, airplanes, plastic farm animals, markers, jump ropes, etc. Some have given money to help with the shipping of supplies.  I even have a client who is going to Tanna in August offering to bring supplies to the Village for Annie's school. Helping Annie, her school, and the Village has been the most rewarding experience in my life. 

I did hear from Nicola and she said that since school is out in Tanna, Annie's daughter has come back home to help mother with the Village Tours. Her name is Selina and Nicola said they have been getting  wonderful responses from her guests that Selina is doing a terrific job.  

My thanks are to Sue Herrick, VTO North American Representative for introducing me to Vanuatu and in particular to Lowinia Village. I would like Linda Kalpoi and the staff at the Vanuatu Tourism Office that bringing people to Vanuatu has effects in many different ways.  It's not always the hotels, dive operators, tours nor attractions that make the Islands special, it is the people. 

Thank you for allowing me the privilege of being a part of these wonderful people.  Lukim yu…


Desiree Tibbs
Dolphin Destiny Adventures
Northwest Sales Manager
Scuba and Adventure Vacations to Exotic Locations