A small ni-Vanuatu theatre group has grown to work with and support youth all over Vanuatu.
In a country with a high teenage pregnancy rate (around 7% of all births) and high prevalence of Sexually Transmitted Infections, Wan Smolbag spreads the world about sexual and reproductive health and healthy relationships through theatre, music and dance – even an award winning TV show.
Since being founded by a small troupe of volunteer actors in 1990, WSB has grown to be the largest grassroots NGO in the Pacific. They now work in many different areas including youth advocacy, environment, and good governance, proving they are more than just community theatre.
Half of all unemployed people in Vanuatu are between the ages of 16 and 29, and nearly half of all high school-aged people are not in school. Wan Smolbag’s mission is to engage those young people, to provide them with the skills they need, as well as advocating for good youth policy and ensuring young people have access to reproductive health services.
Every year, tens of thousands of people see WSB theatre productions examining social issues, while up to 17,000 young people are seen in clinics, including WSB’s mobile clinics that visit the regions.
Ricky Hinton, manager of WSB’s Port Vila centre (WSB also runs the Northern Care Youth Clinic in Santo), says “There’s always something different happening – sewing, dance, computer classes, music…
“This town is growing and growing and the space for youth is just not there. So my dream is for it to remain a place for youth to come and learn something. It’s a safe space for them as well as a place for learning fun stuff.”
Wan Smolbag has been a VSA partner since 1998, with 13 volunteers since then. Josh Mitikulena is volunteering as a Dance Tutor/ Choreographer.