Here in Kiribati we have 9 conferences plus 3 youth conferences. One of our conferences is twinned. Most of our conferences are on the main island of Tarawa, with three, plus one of our youth conferences, on outer islands.
Members of 7 conferences celebrated the feast of St Vincent with patients from the hospital on the island of Baso. We also invited three homeless people to join us to be guests at our meal, and provided them with new clothes to wear. We had a traditional welcome Galanding, where we sing and dance and present guests with a floral crown, and we shared a meal and conversation.
One conference also regularly visits the mental hospital on Tarawa. And one of the youth conferences also does this. We talk and dance and give patients small useful gifts like soap. Conference members also do some house visits, where we help people. For example, one conference gathered to help re-thatch the roof a blind lady’s house. We are planning to do more of this work, but it can be difficult to meet and do our work as it is expensive to travel, even small distances. For example it costs $1.50 for a bus fare, and many Vincentians cannot afford this regularly. We met as conferences every month and try to collect $5.00 between us to support our work. We have undertaken some fund raising, including cooking scones to sell, but this is difficult as others are doing similar work to make a living.
We are Vincentians to help people in our community. As one of our youth members said ‘we are in SVdP because we want to help and it is important to do this, it makes us feel good too.’