IVI Pilgrimages

Youth camp in Vanuatu, January 2010

For the second year Invitation to Life in Oceania organized a youth camp in Vanuatu. 47 young people from Vanuatu, Australia, New-Zealand, New-Caledonia, France and the Netherlands gathered with 10 adults in the tropical paradise called Eton Beach. They prayed, lived together to meet and know each other with their cultural differences.

vue du camp

View camp

4.30 am, first light, wrapped up bodies asleep on mats outside my tent.
A lone figure sits on the sand bank: Marie-Chantal is already conversing with God.
I cross to the lagoon for my first swim as the sun begins to rise.

Sophie walks energetically in the river. Emmanuel and Sami are already fishing! Gismo, the dog with the flying ears, is up. Alexina, Justine and Francine are just sitting watching the sun,

Life stirs in the camp. The fire's going, the big silver pot of water boiling, Sabrina and Marie-Angèle already busy in the big outdoor kitchen with a few sleepy figures emerging here and there.

Jocelyne returns from her morning ablutions ready to face the trip to Port Vila for work and to do all our shopping, but she ate too many mangoes...mangoes and sun, beware!

Elizabeth is cutting bread, pommelos and papaya for breakfast, before going to the silence.

Lorna valiantly leading the rosary at dawn with a large group of children and adults making sandwiches for our excursion,

Bislama lesson with Marie-Angèle in the truck: "mi save talk talk bishlama!"

Floating with the river with Tess at sunrise,

coupecoupeSabrina climbs trees like a monkey to cut branches with her "machete",
Blandine and Stacey write words of prayers in large format, French and English.

Making baskets with Sabrina, mine was a bit lopsided but she fixed it. Wrapping lap laps for lunch with the girls, I did a good one in the end, flies...lots of them!

Morgane, Alex, Perrine and Jack co-write the camp's only legal document for the week: teams and job sharing.panier

Team 6 with Jack and Tess, sorting the rubbish with rubber gloves, one bag for the pigs, one for the paper and one for the plastic!

Another difficult job: Jack, Gaby, Mick, Keanu, Tim and Gordon too? Move the portaloo, mamma mia!

Sore throats, sore tummies, little pills from a little box with a little book, I am playing nurse... cuts and sores, quick get the betadine in the cardboard box!

Gaby fixing the benches that keep flattening under our weight, Kevin makes a banana leaf lounge for us to sit on, teams fetch wood, some fetch water...

Scrubbing big pots with sand by the river, Zoe and Laura now craft teachers. Eyes of God everywhere, ribbons in the trees floating in the breeze, lots of flies but no mozzies!

Nicky, the queen of the art tent and lanterns!

Generator symphony orchestra, nightly till 9.30,
Candles in the tree altar, flowers for Yvonne, she is smiling and watching. Children play cards, people harmonise on benches and tables. There are games to play and work to do, we pray, vibrate and sing "Ira Congo", "Ave Maria".Harmonisation  Young people smile, some are bored, some happy, some are sleeping, others reading and she is watching her Oceania family gathered together, living together.

Some even from France and Germany, happy moments, tough ones, three hours of silence, Francine's words, Tam's words, and the children get the music going and it go go goes!

Monster party at Banana Bay, faces beaming, cameras flashing, crazy dancing!


Fever burning, work is done,
Hearts and minds lifted, full to brim,
Sharing joy, sharing love, laughter and tears,
It's hard to leave but God willing, we shall meet again this or next year.

Rosemary, Sydney

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© Invitation to Life - 2010