The Vanuatu government has given its full backing to the Vanuatu Mission (VM) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) to open a family counseling center in Etas, an area southeast of the capital city of Port Vila.
The Elang Family Care Centre will cater to the social, physical, mental, and spiritual needs of victims of violence, especially within a family setting, church leaders said.
The facility was opened on May 16, 2021, by Vanuatu minister of finance Johnny Koanapo Rasou, director of Vanuatu Women’s Affairs (VWC) Rothina Noka, ADRA Vanuatu country director Richard Greenwell, VM general secretary Kaio Timothy, and Efate district Adventist leader John Leeman.
ADRA project manager Danielle Masoe said the decision to locate the family center at Etas was purely strategic.
“Etas is home to well over 3,000 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 counseling center.
“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 center,” Masoe said. She has overseen Blossom, an ADRA-funded program originally focused on teenage pregnancy issues, since 2016.
Speaking at the opening ceremony on behalf of the government and the Ministry of Justice and Community Services, VWC director Noka praised VM 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,” Noka said.
She highlighted the results of a two-year-long program of activities developed under her tutelage since 2019 and geared toward assessing the impacts of what VWC has done, especially in the area of gender-based violence.
Noka said Elang Family Care Centre was long overdue and urged ADRA country director Greenwell to consider expanding into other locations in the country. To her delight, Greenwell confirmed ADRA’s plans to establish more centers, beginning in Luganville, then Tanna, and other provincial centers.
Elang Family Care Centre is the first of its kind, apart from the Vanuatu Women’s Centre, which provides an avenue for victims of violence to seek counseling and advice with legal assistance.
Fully funded by ADRA, leaders said the center will be staffed daily by an ADRA-certified counseling coordinator, also a resident at Etas.