The Paralympic Games are held two weeks after the Olympics and has a rapidly growing number of participants,
corporate sponsors and spectators. The motto of “courage, determination, equality and inspiration” guide
Paralympic endeavors. Here in Vanuatu the Vanuatu Paralympic Committee (VPC) uses the stories of success to inspire Ni-Vanuatu living with a disability to come out of their communities and join in regular
sporting opportunities in athletics (sprinting, long jump, javelin& shot put), swimming, hockey, Table Tennis, Seated Volleyball, Hockey and rowing. It is unknown just how many people there are living with a disability in Vanuatu. The recent 2020 Census has yet to release its analysis of disability numbers but even then, the results may not accurately capture the real numbers. Why? Having a child with a disability is still seen by meaning as a curse from God, a taboo, witchcraft. When Census enumerators or strangers visit, family will hide their disabled family member in the bush or a back room. This is why people with a disability in Vanuatu are often referred to as “The Hidden People.”
Some Non Government Organizations estimate between 10,000 to 12,000 people in Vanuatu may be living with an
impairment as small as a minor hearing problem to more serious physical impairments such as cerebral palsy. This is the goal of the Vanuatu Paralympic Committee – to use the stories of sporting success to progress inclusive reforms in education, access to meaningful employment and respect in their own communities by encouraging families to allow their children to come along to sports programs as “Change Champions” – driving change in attitudes to disability and the meaningful roles that people with an impairment can play in a community. The stories of Elie Ennock, Georges Langa, Marcelline Moli, Mathias Nakat, Ken Kahu are truly inspirational. The Vanuatu Paralympic Committee (VPC) is an independent, notfor-profit organisation registered with the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), Oceania Paralympic Committee (OPC) and is registered with the Vanuatu Financial Services Commission, Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Vanuatu Association of Non Government Organisations (VANGO) as a fully compliant, charitable organisation. The Committee members and coaches are all volunteers. The VPC works to promote paralympic sport in Vanuatu at all levels, from grassroots/ community to international level, supporting stakeholder organisations and disability support entities to run programs to encourage parathletes and people living with impairments to be involved in healthier lifestyles. The VPC is totally reliant on donor, corporate funding, events funding from the Government of Vanuatu for Games such as the Pacific Games, Mini Games and Arafura Games and very importantly, small fund-raising initiatives led by the Committee.
By utilising the stories and successes of our parathletes as “Change Champions public understanding is improving. This
targeted public outreach, advocacy and awareness program has been accomplished through our weekly radio program on FM107, regular media releases, Facebook and the VPC Web Site and of course events such as Kurt
Fearnley’s visit funded by the Australian Government’s Pacific Sports Diplomacy
Program. This Daily Post supplement, by telling new stories of the activities being run by National Federations of Sport
and te VPC, is targeted at increasing that awareness and to encourage involvement as a parathlete, volunteer coach or as a sponsor to help our Ni-Vanuatu living with a disability to come out of the dark corners and to participate but also aspire, to dream of wearing national colours and representing Vanuatu internationally.