Striving with the passion to live in our own home country, to strive to better our lives and the lives of people around us, is something that Ruth Amos continues to commit her life to.
Born in Vanuatu into a family of five, Ruth Amos is the oldest of five siblings and lived most of her life in Port Vila. She was always curious about how things worked, and her parents, both civil servants, encouraged her to learn as much as possible.
She grew up in the colonial era in Vanuatu; her childhood was quite different from what it is now. Ruth and her siblings attended school at a time when everything was provided, and families then did not have to pay for exercise books and pencils, as this was given to students at school.
This experience was a springboard for Ruth in her academic journey, and since completing her studies until today, she has continued to give back to her home country.
Ruth also recalled being part of independence. “So, we saw the independence of Vanuatu; we were privileged to be part of the parade in the first independence celebration in 1980 on the 30th of July.” In the same year, Ruth began her high school journey at Malapa College, where she did most of her high school education. Soon after, Ruth secured a scholarship to study in New Zealand.
Ruth completed her degree at Otago University, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in 1991. She returned to work in Vanuatu in the field of education when there was a great need for teachers in the subject of Chemistry; Ruth knew it was a need she could meet and offered to be trained on the job.
She said, “Since 1992 after I was trained on the job, I have loved teaching. So, I stayed there for 20 years and went through many stages. First. I was a junior secondary school and Basic Science teacher, and then I became a senior secondary school teacher.”
Ruth took a break from teaching to start her little family, but because of her passion for teaching, she thought to continue part-time at the foundation level at The University of the South Pacific.
She tutored at USP for five years, during which she became the centre lecturer at the USP Campus in Port Vila and remained in the position for three years.
She left working at Emalus USP Campus to continue her studies in 2000. She travelled to Fiji and completed her Postgraduate Diploma in Chemistry with USP in 2001.
The major challenge for Ruth was being away from her family to study. She recalled the economic challenges of raising a family in town where everything is paid for, from rent to utilities, transport, and food.
Ruth said the thought of being able to provide for her family and be an example to her children to give back to their community and their nation is the inspiration that kept her going.
Returning to Vanuatu, Ruth was determined to stay in teaching, but this time in the rural areas of her country. For five years, she taught at a high school in northern Vanuatu, where she was promoted to Deputy Principal for two years before returning to Port Vila.
“I returned to Port Vila to join the Vanuatu Institute of Teacher’s Education. I was a lecturer there for three years before leaving the profession. So, my teaching career has spanned all the different levels of teaching, from being at the recipient end to the one delivering the subject, subject matter.” She added.
But giving back didn’t stop there for Ruth Amos. The now 56-year-old decided to go into something always close to her heart. Ruth decided to go back into public service with the Ministry of Trade.
In 2012, she commenced with the Ministry of Trade with a significant task to set up a quality control laboratory for value-added products for Vanuatu.
With her chemistry background, Ruth took on the challenge of setting up the first laboratory for the government of Vanuatu. She started drafting an Act, looking at venues to establish the Vanuatu Bureau of Standards.
Ruth said, “I went with the easy one first, the laboratory because I’ve been in many laboratories in the last 20 years. So that was the easy way out for me. As I was doing that, I also worked simultaneously with the State Law Office of Vanuatu to draft the law to establish the Vanuatu Bureau of Standards.”
The drafted law that Ruth had been working on was endorsed by Parliament in 2016, and in 2017, she established The National Bureau of Standards for Vanuatu; by this time, the laboratory was five years old.
She explained that establishing the laboratory was to assess or verify the quality of Kava that Vanuatu was exporting.
In 2001, Vanuatu and the Pacific had an issue with Kava exports as they were banned in the European Union countries. “After 11 years, when I came on board in 2012, there was no Quality Control for Kava going out of Vanuatu. So, one of my tasks was to set up this laboratory; where we would be testing the quality of Kava,” she added.
Gradually over the last ten years, the scope of the laboratory has widened, and Ruth and her team will acquire accreditation for the Vanuatu Bureau of Standards laboratory in October of this year.
Ruth shared, “It has been a very long, challenging journey for us in that sense, but I’ve been very privileged to be part of that and to do something for my country to give back for all the opportunity to study overseas in both Fiji and New Zealand. Because none of this would be possible without the education, I got from USP and New Zealand.”
Ruth strongly advises young people in Vanuatu and the Pacific to keep an open mind and learn as much as possible. She hopes that more young people will aspire to work and live in their countries to better the livelihoods of the people they love.