The Land and its people:
The Solomon Islands form an archipelago in the Southwest Pacific about 1,900 kilometers (1,200 mi.) northeast of Australia. With terrain ranging from ruggedly mountainous islands to low-lying coral atolls, the Solomon Islands stretch in a 1,450-kilometer (900 mi.) chain southeast from Papua New Guinea across the Coral Sea to Vanuatu.
Population of Solomon Islands in 2008 was estimated to be about 523,000. However, the true figure is expected to be released soon from the recent Census in 2009. About 93% of the population are Melanesians, 4% Polinesians, and Micronesians and others made up the remaining 3 %.
Politically, Solomon Islands is divided into 9 provinces, of which Western Province is the second largest next to Malaita. The estimated population of Western Province is close to 100,000. The population within Zone 3 of the province, for which HGH is responsible, is about 25,650 (>25% of the total provincial population).
Western Province is comprised of New Georgia (the main island) and many smaller islands. Munda Town is situated in the north-western corner of New Georgia island, between Vona Vona Lagoon in the north and Roviana Lagoon in the south-west. The main localities (villages) within Munda are Dunde, Lambete, Kekehe, Lale, Lodumaho, Kokeqolo and Kindu. Helena Goldie Hospital is in Lale area, just about a kilometer from Munda Airport which is in Lambete.
The People and the Culture:
The majority of people living in Western Province, including Munda are Roviana people who are Melanesians. Roviana people were known to be the strongest warriors during those head-hunting days. Now they have all been converted to Christianity, and majority of them belong to the United Church. Other church denominations in WP are Christian Fellowship Church (CFC), Seventh-Day Adventists (SDA), Roman Catholics, SSEC, AOG and others.
The people here give high importance to church activities and programs. There remains traditional Chiefs in every village who still have a lot of influence in social issues at the village level.
Solomon Islanders, especially Roviana people are one of the friendliest and most generous people in the world. It is the custom here to greet each other when two people meet, no matter the two have never known each other before! Either you say a simple "Hello", or "Good Morning" to "Good Night" depending on the time of the day. "Good Night" is often used as a greeting at night!
Normally, Melanesian people do not start conversation with a stranger. But once you open up first, they are very open, friendly and straight-forward people. Melanesians do not confront or criticize each other openly. They never raise their voice in anger! As in any other Pacific Island nations, things move slowly here in the Solomons as well. People are known for their patience! "Solomon Time" is a famous word, which could mean anything between half to few hours late! As someone pointed out: "In Europe they have watches but not time. In Solomons we have no watches but plenty of time!"
Melanesian culture is a community culture, quite opposite to individualistic culture of the west. Therefore, social and community activities have a central place in the life of Solomon Islanders.