The most recent of our projects on the island of Ambrym is the building of Megamone Primary School, which commenced in June 2014. This is long term and ongoing project that requires significant contributions from a wide range of organizations, government departments, overseas Aid funds and countless voluntary labour hours. The ultimate aim is to build a brand new school for the communities in most northern part of Ambrym. Currently children (Grades Prep to Year 6 or ages 5 ­ 12 years) from 4 different villages walk up to 5 kilometres through rough, hilly terrain and around dangerous coastline to get to school. Once they have completed these years of school they have no other option but to leave or move away from home to continue their schooling at another larger school further down the coast! Most families cannot afford to “board” their children out and so they just don’t do anymore schooling!

Megamone Primary School, Phase 8

Vanuatu, North Ambrym
May 2017 – ongoing

In May 2017, work on two new teachers houses will commence.  Teams will work on site clearing, foundation digging, block making and laying.

Work began in June/July 2017.  The first house is ready for iron sheeting to the roof area.  Most of the block work was completed.  

Our new truck was delivered to Ambrym in July and has already been put to good use.  Thank you to the people and churches who made this possible.  

Megamone Primary School, Phase 7

Vanuatu, North Ambrym
January 2016 – July 2016

Jan 2015 - Our truck finally arrives in North Ambrym after a long wait in customs in Port Vila however there is significant heavy rain and the roads are in many parts not safe or in a state to drive on. Road repairs are undertaken so that our work can continue.

Feb 2015 – Footings are poured for the double classroom and blocks are made by locals for the internal and external walls. An earthquake hits and we are on evacuation alert.

Mar 2015 – work was continuing at the school site until Cyclone Pam hit and much devastation occurred. So much damage now needs to be repaired. Fortunately, all our work at Megamone School was not! However, so many schools in the area are hit hard and our work load has greatly multiplied.

Apr – May 2015 - A team from New Zealand arrives to assist and also a team from YWAM. Bricklaying continues, window frames are made and installed into brickwork.

July 2015 – Brickwork has now reached the bond beam and steel is secured in place to support and tie down the roof. Painting of the window frames, ceiling linings to teacher’s office.

August 2015 – Trusses made and stood up, ceiling lining to classrooms, roofing iron started and completed.

September 2015 – Water tank delivered via Marine Reach NZ ship – Pacific Hope to help with severe water shortage and the delivery of truck parts and tiles for the Richard’s home in Ranvetlam. Footings dug and poured for the teacher’s homes at the new school site.

November 2015 – concrete floor to double classroom poured. Solar power installed to classrooms/teachers office. Painting of some of the outside of classrooms and windows shutters was done.

January 2016 – Rendering of outside of classroom continues. Our trusty truck broke down and fixing will have to wait until parts can be obtained and a mechanic found.

March 2016 – Truck parts obtained from Australia & Port Vila – so repairs begin. Window shutters to the classroom installed. Built a storage shed at the school site to house building materials in the interim but will be eventually used by the school for storage of equipment.

April 2016 – internal painting commences and is completed.

May 2016 – Finishing touches, blackboards painted. Site cut for the second classroom is commenced.

June 2016 – set up of the classrooms is done and the outside of the storage shed is painted.

Official opening of the school (with lots of pomp and ceremony) happens June 8 2016


Megamone Primary School, Phase 6

Vanuatu, North Ambrym, Megamone
January 2015

Planning and arranging transportation of materials out to Ambrym was the focus of the early part of January. Initial materials and goods such as rio, cement, water tank, piping were amongst those sent out by ship. Weather was an issue with lengthy delays in shipping! A work team arrived in time to unload materials, truck and was able to begin preparations for the school foundations. Regrowth since the initial site clearing had to be dealt with.

Megamone Primary School, Phase 5

Vanuatu, North Ambrym, Megamone
Nov/Dec 2014

The next stage of the project was to purchase of vehicle for use by the construction teams and the school. Significant difficulty in accessing the site from Ranon (shipped cargo drop off point) without this vehicle was always a concern! The purchase of the truck assists in the next stage of construction which is foundations and brick making. After searching both in Vanuatu and in Australia the perfect Landcruiser was purchased. The purchase money was kindly donated by the Presbyterian church of New Zealand. A very successful Facebook campaign then raised the necessary funds to ship it to Port Vila, pay the import and customs duties and eventually be sent out to Ambrym.

Megamone Primary School, Phase 4

Vanuatu, North Ambrym, Megamone
10 Oct ­ 27 Oct 2014

Return trip to Megamone School to revisit site. Lots of regrowth of grass and other vegetation. fortunately clearing (with the aid of machetes and a “whipper snipper) wasn’t too bad. Meetings with various government officials to gain support, additional finances & rapport have accomplished much and recently culminated in a visit by government officials out to the school site to inspect (October 2014). Government officials were so impressed by the work done by BuildAid that they are looking to further expand our proposal and add teachers accommodation!

Megamone Primary School, Phase 3

Vanuatu, North Ambrym, Megamone
21 ­ 28 Aug 2014

A week long visit by Ian to Port Vila ­ and a productive week of meetings with government department officials and material suppliers plus looking for a suitable vehicle that could be purchased for use in the construction of the school! Unfortunately no luck to that end!. Meetings with representatives from Presbyterian church of New Zealand confirmed their decision to seek approval to donate the funds for the purchase a truck from Australia!

Megamone Primary School, Phase 2

Vanuatu, North Ambrym, Megamone
July/Aug 2014

The second team of volunteers (again from South Valley Baptist Church in Geelong, along with Joanna) arrived in Port Vila and after a couple of nights overlap they returned to Australia and the second team moved on to Ambrym. Work continued on with with site cut and clearing ­ this time with more tools and just as many willing helpers from surrounding villages. A huge amount of soil was moved and good progress was made on site and with the relationships in the community!

Megamone Primary School, Phase 1

Vanuatu, North Ambrym, Megamone
July 2014

First team of volunteers (from South Valley Baptist Church in Geelong) arrived on Ambrym after some air & sea delays and began the arduous task of clearing the site. Thick jungle confronted them and with very few tools and NO wheelbarrows did an amazing job. The local villagers showed great interest and quickly joined forces to work alongside our team. Some of the women even wove together bamboo matting that was used to cart away soil.

Inside two weeks the back breaking work of clearing jungle was complete and a large portion of the site cut was commenced.

Megamone Primary School, Phase Preparation + Planning

Vanuatu, North Ambrym, Megamone
Mar/Apr 2014

Preparation and planning for this project has been intense but has resulted in the successful application for funding to relocate and build anew, this small school with New Zealand Aid. Countless meetings with government departments ­ education, public works, customs as well as New Zealand government representatives, suppliers and the school council. Several site work trips have been planned to carry out work on site, including land clearing and site levelling.