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A Lost Generation – A Generation’s Work

A Lost Generation – A Generation’s Work

VSA’s CEO, Deborah Snelson, says Bougainville has come a very long way since its civil war, but the momentum must not be lost.

Ms Snelson has just returned from Bougainville where she met the 15 volunteers who are currently working there. They are continuing to build on work done since VSA first went into the area shortly after the devastating 10-year war, which saw thousands, killed and the infrastructure of the islands all but destroyed.

Deborah Snelson says even working in war-ravaged parts of Africa for 16 years didn’t prepare her for the complete devastation – both physical and social – that was suffered by the Bougainvilleans.

She says Bougainville is an example of how aid can help, but also of how long the rebuilding process can be. She says that the task is so huge that development agencies must be in for the long haul, with each project building on the last.

Ms Snelson says work done by volunteers such as planning officer, Melanie Baynes, who is helping to develop the infrastructure for the emerging autonomous government, shows immediate and long lasting impact. She says others – working on training young people who’ve known little but war in trades such as building, or helping to set up systems in schools and health centres – complete the long-term vision.

VSA is about to do a major push for more volunteers in the regions, and will be looking for 15 volunteers over the next year to work with the Bougainville provincial government and community organisations in small business, health, and education.

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