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In memory of Katherine Stirling Kerr Cawsey

Born in New Hebrides 8 October 1917 and died in Canberra Australia on 10 May 2020

We were recently approached by our friends Sarah & Dave of The Story Boxes in Brisbane. An elderly friend of theirs, Katherine had recently passed away at the incredible age of 102. Born in Vanuatu (known then as New Hebrides) in 1917. She lived there as a young child, before her family returned to live in Australia.

Knowing the connection which The Story Boxes had with Vanuatu – Katherine’s family asked if there was a charity which might receive donations in memory of Katherine.

This is how Mammas Laef Vanuatu became connected.

But the story goes beyond this connection in 2020.

From 1919, the Kerr Brothers had a trading business and plantation, store and ship owners. Trading throughout and beyond the New Hebrides Islands (as Vanuatu was known then). The business was run by Katherine’s father, his sisters and his brother.

Katherine wrote several books over the years, giving an interesting history of those times. A time when labour trade was happening, something her family did not participate in. In fact the family enjoyed a good reputation among Islanders, settlers, traders and some colonial officials and missionaries.

Katherines’ family were at one time, based in a small village on the east coast of Santo – Hog Harbour. That is the village of Mary from Mammas Laef.

Mary Kalsrap whose mother’s family, the Reuben’s, gifted land to Katherine’s family. It was there that the Stirling house was built. The house has long gone, and today, on those foundations of the Stirling house, sits the house of Mary’s uncle.

It is indeed a small world. One in which we so often find a link between ourselves and so many others.

Mary and Jack made a tribute to the wider Stirling – Kerr – Cawsey families, produced by Sarah Mak from The Story Boxes.

We would like to thank and acknowledge the family and friends of Katherine Stirling Kerr Cawsey who have generously supported Mammas Laef Vanuatu.

It seems fitting that the donations will take the form of practical relief for women who have suffered such a lot as a result of the early April 2020, Category 5, Tropical Cyclone Harold. Menstrual pads, made in Vanuatu will soon be transported to remote communities who are very much in need of our products. We are grateful to Lynn & Dave from The Butterfly Trust who will coordinate this distribution in their roles working alongside the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO).

We get the sense that Katherine would approve of the concept of Mammas Laef – supporting women to take control of their future.

At Mammas Laef , we use the hashtag #TogetherWeCanMakeADifference. In this situation, you can see that it really is a team effort in what we do and together we can get results and “Support women to take control of their futures”.

Mi lukim yu


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