Storian - the Vanuatu Aelan Walkabaot blog
Gifting is a nice way of showing gratitude that is less commercial
and more lasting. To gift successfully in Vanuatu however,
you need to understand that Melanesians do not gift. Melanesian
society works on sharing and exchanges.
What is appropriate
things behind after you've finished using them, e.g. clothes,
footwear, a torch light, etc. I like to donate used tents
to my guides.
that will be used in your activities, e.g. Chinese "Crocs"
sandals, bush knife, snorkeling
mask, fishing tackle, etc.
to the kitchen, especially at home-stay style accommodation
and in remote villages, e.g. rice, sugar, tea, 3-in-1 coffee
mix (ni-Vans love "mix coffee"), tin
fish, etc. Sharing food is one of the best ways to make
for friends and "family" on return visits.
and tobacco! Ni-Vanuatu men and kava drinkers love cigarettes.
For jungle treks, tobacco is an essential motivator. I stock
up on cheap cigarettes whenever I can but haven't been to
Asia for a couple of years now.
What is not appropriate
to random strangers and anyone you do not know really well.
It's uncomfortable for the receiver when they feel obliged
to reciprocate the gift. We also don't want people to expect
free gifts from tourists. In Zanzibar, east Africa, village
kids know at least two words of English: "pen school".
And I've had ni-Vanuatu ask me for lawnmowers, computers,
DVD players, tents, etc. I am not John
gifts, unless for a specific and agreed purpose (e.g. School
fees). Cash is easily wasted and the memory lost.
things, like electronics, that are soon broken and tossed
into the bush or the ocean. There is no IT support in the
to big men may not be necessary. In the past, a stranger
might bring a gift for the Chief of a village and then ask
for his assistance. This hasn't been very successful for
my explorations. Today, gifts to big men are usually not
expected, except in politics (where they are not viewed
should not be used to settle your accounts! Most ni-Vanuatu
build bungalows and guest houses to generate cash flow.
| Comment on this article
I sent a breast pump to a young mum on Hideaway, she left a very young baby with a friend in town when at work. The cost of milk powder is high and it enabled her friend to use the expressed milk, when the young mother was working. Got big hugs from several staff when I returned this year - was like coming home.
20 April 2012, 00:45