Mele, the biggest village in Vanuatu does not get its water supply from UNELCO unlike the other south Efate villages.

According to the chairlady of the Imere Water Supply subcommittee, Julia King, in the last 40 years the village with between 5,000 to 7,000 people has sourced its water from above the famous cascades.

The water is piped from a pool to some tanks and this supplies water to people in Mele, Mele Maat, Tamate and Devils Point.

However, the main system runs from Mele Maat to Mele and across to Hideaway Island.

The chairlady says after the court ruled last year that Simeon Poilapa was the paramount chief of the village, his Farea together with his council set up a task force to deal with operations and affairs of the village.

In doing so the water subcommittee was set up with the aim of supplying safe drinking water to the people.

Mrs King says this is such a huge feat and they have had three months of work to improve.

She says this is all voluntary and they need funding and each household is obliged to contribute VT1,000.

Apart from contributing households, Mrs King says they are organizing the inaugural Imere Talen Festival for Tamamere or Mele people to reidentify themselves. It is also a chance to celebrate their heritage.

Mrs King says upgrading the water supply system is a huge task but she says like all other things it is the journey that matters, not the destination.

She says water must be safe for drinking as well and they are aiming to chlorinate the water just as UNELCO does. At the moment people rely on rain water for drinking.

The first steps to upgrade the water system include cleaning the source, repairing pipes and repairing tanks, which she says is one step ahead but two steps backwards.

Two weeks ago, her team surveyed the village to look for leakages in the pipes.

She says this is all the result of the last ten years where the elders of the village cared more about the politics of fighting for leadership but forgetting the main necessities in life.

Mrs King says her team will fix the main pipes of the network; however, each individual household will have to pay for the fittings themselves before their pipes can be worked on.

She says they are hosting a Talent show today, Friday August 28 2020, coinciding with the Anniversary of the day their ancestors left Hideaway island for the mainland.

She says a few of those who are over 70 are still alive and will be sharing stories of that time during the 3-day event.

The oldest person in village is Mothy Vatoko who is 98 years old, she is the grandmother of Santos Vatoko, a former General Manager of the Vanuatu National Provident Fund.

Mrs King says the talent show will include music, dance, drama, art, agriculture, sewing, weaving, carving and cooking.

She says the age categories are children under 13, under 18 teens and 19 and adults. Entries are open to anyone from Mele, she says all items must be in Mele language and anything used by be produced by someone from Mele.

While the talent show is on the participants from different categories will be interviewed about why they are interested in what they do and what inspired them to do it.

Mrs King says participants should not focus mainly on the prizes but they should think more of celebrating their identity and being proud of who they are.

There will also be a display of the sporting greats from the village and a showcase of their achievements.

All famous musicians from Mele village will be performing throughout the festival from the 28th to the 30th of August to celebrate the 70th anniversary of leaving Hideaway Island or Imere Tenuku which is its real name.

Mrs King says she has sent invites to the government departments, donors and diplomatic corps.

She is also inviting the public of Port Vila and surrounding areas to go wearing blue and yellow to Mele and join in the celebrations.

Blue and yellow t-shirts with the number 70 on them will be sold during the festival.

Mrs King says the festival will not take place at the field like other events.

It will be staged within the Farea Pasifika area as she says it is the heart of the village.

The women’s council, police patrol council and the churches council have all joined hands together to help make this a successful event.

Mrs King is calling on interested sponsors of the event in the following category: platinum VT70, 000, gold VT50,000, silver VT30,000, Bronze VT20,000 and contributor VT10,000.

Anyone interested in sponsoring can contact Mrs King on 7722885 or her husband Frank King on 772282.