Loud laughter, diving and jumping was visible as everyone gave Beach Volleyball a go at the Lapita Bay Lini Day tournament & opening of the Eratap Mama’s Volley4Change Program.

Eight mixed teams of 4 with the ages of the participants ranging from 16 – 63yrs old, were formed from the Eratap and Teouma areas. The local chief representative Reny Charlie also arranged a Beach Soccer Tournament for the young men on another part of Lapita Bay.

This fun event was a culmination of several conversations between VVF President and V4C Project Coordinator Debbie Masauvakalo, Lapita Wayfinding and Voyaging project founder George Tasso, Shefa Sports and Youth Development Officer George Kalo, Lapita Bay (aka Shark Bay) Chief representative Reny Charlie and Vanuatu Mamas English Class (VMEC) tutor Dawna Horton from Peace Corp, working in Eratap Village.

Two key women from VMEC, Viana Olul and Ibae Namisa, both shared how this was the first time they had ever played BV. They both couldn’t stop smiling about their experience and they’re both looking forward to taking part in the upcoming Volley4Change which will begin with the Eratap Village women on March 7. Watch this space for updates on this partnership.

George Tasso approached VVF with the idea of using sports as a vehicle to bring awareness to the communities about the rich cultural heritage literally “in their back yard.” Teouma has the oldest cemetery of Lapita peoples in the South Pacific, yet very few people locally and nationally are aware of its location or cultural significance. .

Tasso shared that a key objective in hosting a Beach Volleyball Tournament at Lapita Bay was to empower participants and spectators to start taking an interest in their historical roots so they can share this knowledge to their children, giving them a sense of pride to successfully navigate this modern setting.

Vanuatu Cultural Centre resident ni-Vanuatu Archaeologist, Richard Shing, shared that present Day ni-Vanuatu have a mixture of Asian (Taiwan & Filipino) genes from Lapita people and Papua New Guinean genes from people who migrated many thousands of years ago into the Pacific.

An even more significant point that Shing mentioned is that the mixture of genes in different proportions throughout the Pacific Region indicates that all the Pacific are ONE people and this should unite us all. In addition our ancestors were the first peoples to travel such extensive distances to seek out new territories, which should provide us with courage to explore new frontiers in the modern context.

Discussions with two of the participants, Toutatak and Ruth, who have lived in Eratap and Teouma region for many years confirmed Tasso’s beliefs when they shared that they had never realised that they were living in an area where our first ancestors entered Vanuatu. They also felt that what Shing shared about the Lapita people and our other ancestors was also important for themselves and their children, so they were looking forward to learning more about their cultural heritage in future events. READ MORE