For the first time, the Government of Vanuatu has given its full backing to the Vanuatu Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Mission and the Adventist Development Relief Agency (ADRA), to establish a family counselling centre in Etas area, South East of the Capital Port Vila.

The Centre’s core mission and purpose would be to cater for the social, physical, mental and spiritual needs of victims of violence, especially crimes within a family setting.

Dubbed ‘Elang Family Care Centre’, the facility was jointly opened on Sunday May 16th by the Minister of Finance Johnny Koanapo Rasou, Director of Women’s Affairs, Rothina Noka, ADRA Vanuatu Country Director, Richard Greenwell, Secretary General of the Vanuatu SDA Mission, Pastor Kaio Timothy and Efate District Seventh-day Adventist District leader, Pastor John Leeman.

ADRA Project Manager Danielle Masoe said the decision to locate the family centre at Etas was purely strategic.

“Etas is home to well over 3000 people from all walks of life. Through our work with the Vanuatu Correctional Services, statistics have shown that Etas would be well suited to hosting such a counselling centre.

“And it’s not just Etas. There is a burgeoning residential area in the nearby Teoumaville, which we believe will benefit immensely from such a centre,” says Ms Masoe, who has overseen the running of an ADRA funded program called Blossom since 2016.

The program was originally focused at teenage pregnancy issues.

Speaking at the opening ceremony on behalf of the Government and in particular, the Ministry of Justice and Community Services, Director of the Vanuatu Women’s Affairs (VWC), Mrs Noka praised the Vanuatu Seventh-day Adventist Mission and ADRA for putting Christ’s teaching into action through the setting up of such a facility.

“We’ve come here to celebrate the beginning of a new journey,” said Mrs Noka, highlighting the results of a two year-long program of activities developed under her tutelage since 2019 and geared towards assessing the impacts of what Vanuatu Women’s Centre has done, especially in the area of gender-based violence.

Mrs Noka said Elang Family Care Centre was long overdue and urged the ADRA country director Mr Greenwell, to consider expanding into other locations in the country. To her delight, Mr Greenwell confirmed ADRA’s plans to establish more centres; next in Luganville, then Tanna and other provincial centres.

For now, Elang Family Care Centre is the first of its kind, apart from the Vanuatu Women’s Centre (VWC), which provides an avenue whereby victims of violence can seek counselling and advice with legal assistance.

Fully funded by ADRA, the centre will be manned daily by an ADRA-certified Counselling Coordinator – also a resident at Etas.