The Ministry of Justice and Community Services (MoJCS), the Vanuatu Society for People with Disability (VSPD) and the SHEFA Health Team have successfully conducted an outreach initiative in SHEFA Health Zones 3 and 4.

Led by the disability team comprising John Patas, SHEFA Disability Officer, and Tom Kalmet, Disability Field Officer at the VSPD office, the initiative focused on verification and registration of new disability clients, distribution of new mobility devices, and repair of old wheelchairs across various islands within the designated zones.

During the outreach, the team also conducted awareness sessions on the rights of people with disabilities, shedding light on the various challenges faced by individuals with disabilities in their daily lives.

Covering a vast area including Mataso Island, Makira, Emae, Buninga, Tongariki, Tongoa, Epi, and Lamen Island, the team worked tirelessly for 12 days to ensure comprehensive coverage, with a particular focus on Epi Island.

Navigating through challenging terrains, such as the Yarsu Area Council in South Epi, the team successfully engaged with communities in villages like Nalema, Rana, and Nulnesa.

Similarly, in Varsu Area Council on East Epi, they reached out to seven villages, from Mate to Moriu.

Despite facing logistical challenges, the team’s dedication led them to cover extensive ground, visiting villages from Lamen Bay to Wenia village in Vermali Area Council. Although not completing the Vermaul Area Council, they provided assistance to villages like Brisbane to Mafilau.

On Tongoa Island, the team visited six out of fourteen villages, providing aid to communities in Mangarisu, Itakoma, Matangi, Purao, Kurumambe, and Lumbukuti village.

Throughout the outreach, a total of 67 new disability clients were registered, receiving essential mobility aids such as elbow crutches, walking frames, and new wheelchairs. Additionally, the team repaired three old wheelchairs, further enhancing mobility for those in need.

Out of the 69 clients, 30 are male from 20 to 78 years old, 30 are female, and 26 are children.

The impact of the initiative was profound, as families expressed gratitude for the support provided by the dedicated team. Mr. Patas, SHEFA Disability Officer, shared his emotional experience, emphasising the importance of the services rendered to individuals with disabilities, regardless of the challenges faced.

Mr. Patas stressed the significance of inclusion and accessibility, noting that everyone, irrespective of race or disability, should have equal access to essential services.

The SHEFA Disability Office extends its appreciation to all partners, including the VSPD, SHEFA Health, Response Global and HELPR-1, for their invaluable support in facilitating the successful completion of the outreach mission.