For the last 20 years, SurfAid has been working in Indonesia, with some great results. The work that we have been doing on disaster preparedness and response, community development, health promotion, mother and child health and water and sanitation has been growing from strength to strength. We have a specific model around the posyandu, kader and the water committees, using our FRESH approach and our awesome local staff. 

So in our twenties, we thought it would be great to share that learning with other countries! We looked for a country with a link to SurfAid’s mission, so remote areas, connection through surfing, development needs; what are the biggest issues and do these themes fit with SurfAid’s expertise  (e.g. MCH, clean water, malaria etc); what is the human development index (HDI = a combination of life expectancy, education, and per capita income indicators) , and what are the poverty rates and we choose…Solomon Islands!

Quick facts:

  • Capital: Honiara
  • Size of the country: 28,400 km2
  • Islands: six major islands and over 900 smaller islands.
  • Population: 611,343. around 85% live in villages of just a few hundred people each
  • Language: English is the official language, but only 1–2% of the population speak English. The number of local languages listed for Solomon Islands is more than 70.
  • HDI: 152 (out of 189 countries)

So… SurfAid Solomon Islands??

Not yet! SurfAid is partnering with Family Planning Australia (FPA) and contributes to their cervical cancer screening project. Very specifically, to the community engagement part of that project.

Cervical screening saves women’s lives, however, screening is not routinely available in the Solomon Islands. Women are dying from cervical cancer at 11 times the rate of Australian women. SurfAid will train peer educators and help develop culturally-relevant creative media, and a community-based education program aimed at increasing knowledge in the community about the importance of cervical cancer screening and treatment. Other than the specific topic of cancer screening, it sounds very familiar.

I flew for the first time to Solomon islands on the 16th September. I was not alone, but with the nurse educator Kelly Land of FPA. On this trip we met with many national and provincial government staff, nurses, midwives and other NGOs in preparation of the next round of clinical training (for FPA) and material development and community engagement (SurfAid).

It was super exciting and also a bit unexpected … For me, it felt very much like the Mentawais! 🙂

In November I will go back with another SurfAid staff, to prepare materials and train the trainers on the key behaviour change messages. Can’t wait to share more of SurfAid Indonesia’s experiences in Solomons!

Kelly Land, FPA and Anne Wuijts, SurfAid in Solomon Islands