RAMSI is today celebrating its anniversary with sausages and sack races, coconut husking and traditional feasts; after five years on the ground, the Regional Assistance Mission is taking its birthday party to the provinces of Solomon Islands.

RAMSI Special Coordinator, Tim George, said that as 80 per cent of Solomon Islanders live in rural areas the mission had decided to mark the fifth anniversary of its deployment to Solomon Islands on July 24, 2003 by hosting 13 RAMSI Community Fun Days throughout the country's nine provinces.

"The Community Days are recognition of the close and friendly cooperation that RAMSI enjoys with both the government and people of Solomon Islands," said Mr George who heads the 15 member mission.

None of what RAMSI had achieved over the past five years would have been possible without the trust and support of the people of Solomon Islands. "From the rapid surrender of guns in 2003 when RAMSI first arrived to the restoration of important institutions of good governance that continues today, RAMSI only works as a partnership," Mr George says.

The Community Days have been organized through RAMSI's Participating Police Force (PPF) Posts who have formed committees with their local communities to plan special activities including children's games, sporting competitions, dancing, singing, feasting and BBQs.

T-shirts, banners, posters and special RAMSI Children's bags are being dispatched across the nation this week along with sporting equipment and food supplies to help make the celebrations full of fun. Mr George said RAMSI advisers working with their Solomon Islands Police Force counterparts had been amazed by the great response from their local communities.

"The idea of a RAMSI Community Fun Day seems to have really captured people's imagination and given them a new way to enjoy the partnership that has grown up between RAMSI and Solomon Islands over the past five years," Mr George says.
"Community leaders have set up working groups, sports activities have been organized and there will be lots of special food from each local area being prepared!" Mr George says.

Each community day will be an opportunity for people to come together with members of RAMSI working in their area and enjoy the spirit of partnership and the theme of 'tugeta iumi save duim.' Mr George said he wanted to thank each of RAMSI's contributing countries for their efforts over the past five years in running Operation Helpem Fren.

"The RAMSI partnership is a unique one between the peoples of the 15 contributing countries and the people of Solomon Islands. I think everyone agrees that not only Solomon Islands but the entire region has benefited from this opportunity to work together to help a neighbour and a friend."