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Tisman, Malekula Island, Vanuatu - Jeffs Homeland

Not only is the co-op in Tisman, Jeffs home during the Peace Corps, still standing but it has grown. And substantially too.

The building itself is bigger. They added onto the structure creating a larger office - which ended up turning into our make shift home for the 3 days we spent there. The old office on the original structure is now used to house an icebox where fresh fish can be stored - something new.

Also new, the solar panels on the roof that charge a set of car batteries to which a series of light bulbs are attached to light the store for when it's dark - the only lights in the village. The chicken coop was gone, but two new cocoa drying huts and a coconut dryer were built in its place.  

Jeff immediately started asking Jenny, one of the original store keepers who still runs the store today, questions about the ledger. Not only was the co-op still open, not only had it grown, but they had also made more of a profit in the last year than they did during the time Jeff spent helping to build it.  

To explain, it is uncommon for a volunteers work to continue with such great success upon their exit.  Jeff explained to me while standing on the porch of the co-op, "If I would have given you my best case scenario before we arrived... this has exceeded that."  

He was so proud. And that made me proud. 

As Jeff went off to start fixing one of the larger leaks in the water system (if only he'd be that eager to empty the dishwasher - wife joke) I sat on the stoop of the co-op watching the rain come down, wishing I could speak Bislama.  

The people looked at me and just smiled. And I smiled back at them. It was a surprisingly lonely experience not being able to use words to communicate. Thank goodness smiles are universal.