Plane landed at 2.20 pm – first meeting booked for 3pm – not surprisingly, I was 30 minutes late; thankfully, the host wasn’t concerned. This set the scene for a busy 7 day visit to Port Vila in early June.
As part of upskilling within the Mammas Laef team, each of the mammas needed to attend a couple of the planned meetings with me. I was impressed how the mammas, put into this unfamiliar environment, were at ease and represented the group so well. We spoke with many groups who had shown an interest in not only the washable sanitary pad kits, but also the education tools we had been developing with help from some Vanuatu based people.
The Mammas Laef team are developing their business skills, which was another focus for my visit. At one of our meetings, we were asked what the barrier was for the Mammas in having a bank account opened. The answer was 5,000 vatu (equivalent of about $60NZD). The host of this meeting, excused herself from the meeting room, soon returning with a 5,000 vatu note from her purse. A gift for the mammas to take charge of another part of their business. Needless to say, the mammas were delighted and of course, grateful. This is one example of many of the inspiring people, programmes and solutions which I witnessed during the visit.
Here’s a quick list of a few great initiatives and programmes I found out about:
- An ex pat kiwi who privately fundraised, post Cyclone Pam and was able to build a kindergarten that will withstand other weather bombs;
- An ex pat, so passionate about education who is developing new Vanuatu themed teaching tools and games for kindergartens;
- NGO’s who are working closely with individual communities on several islands, building toilets;
- Distributing menstrual hygiene management tools and education;
- Supporting young women who have dropped out of education, with basic life skills to become independent and contributing members of their communities, by way of enterprise assistance;
- American volunteers living on remote islands, working alongside villages to improve health and education outcomes;
- Visiting rural villages to provide “district nurse care” for minor wounds so that more intense hospital care;
- Providing education on diabetes and ways to manage health;
- Providing health clinics with education in central Port Vila
So many great initiatives. The commitment to Vanuatu continues – with networks increasing with each visit.
It seems to me that collaboration is the way to achieving great results.
Mi lukim Yu