Paying it forward in Vanuatu – as Lav Kokonas Ltd celebrates its first birthday
I know that I have been reasonably quiet on the “paying it forward” front of late, however, don’t be fooled, I find myself almost every day sorting out something that will result in a tangible “payment” forward in Vanuatu.
When the ni-Vanuatu people are living in the region where I live, Lav Kokonas are frequently assisting in some way. In particular, the ladies are always keen to take things home with them (either in their luggage or if they have bought a share of a shipping container, then they will load up with lots of goodies – very often purchased from the local recycle centre – at, sometimes ridiculous prices, in my view). Anyway, I asked the ladies what was on their wish list for this year. The usual requests – sheets, towels, clothes for children and themselves, pots and resources for 2 kindergartens.
The word was put out via the Lav Kokonas Facebook page and our beautiful followers donated in abundance. As the saying goes “ask and you shall receive”. We sorted and packed up 9 banana boxes of donations and delivered to the ladies to distribute amongst themselves.
Soon after that delivery I was contacted by a friend who had a few sheets in storage, “I’m not sure of the quality,” she said. “You had better give them wash”. As you can see from the photo, there wasn’t any space left on my clothes line. The end result 11 sheet sets all ready for new homes on the island of Epi. There will be those of you who will be thinking, why on earth collect second hand sheets. I think the answer is simple, the ladies want something nice for their home, something that they wouldn’t be able to buy out of their weekly allowance that they earn while in New Zealand. (Most of their wages are placed in a savings account with restricted access, which ensures maximum savings during the months working in New Zealand). The few shops that exist on Epi only stock basic supplies. If the ladies want linen, they need to source from Port Vila, some 6 hours boat ride away, which of course comes at a financial cost. My point here is, across many parts of Vanuatu you simply cannot go down to the shopping centre and buy what you want – accessibility and finances hinder that ability which so many westerners take for granted.
Other “Paying it Forward” projects include:
Years 10-13 Mathematics Text Books. We’ve been working on this for a while now – the donation from Nelson College for Girls was made about 12 months ago. About 40kg have been sent to Tanna Island (with some of the viticulture ni-Vanuatu workers that were here in February) the rest are destined for Santo, Epi and Efate Colleges – leaving New Zealand in July. We are very grateful to those who have assisted us to get the books to the right destinations, particularly volunteervanuatu.org
Football – the BIG game in Vanuatu. The FIFA World Cup 2010 was nearing the finals when we made our first visit to Vanuatu and the we were baptised into the passion that the ni-Vanuatu feel towards the games. Last year, Lav Kokonas arranged to re-home a great deal of football strips (53 teams in total). Not a bad effort for a small company!
But the football odyssey continues. A local football enthusiast heard of our link to Vanuatu and wanted to know if Lav Kokonas were able to assist in any way with a project he had in mind. We are on board with connecting the right people in Vanuatu so that some specific coaching can be arranged for young players across Vanuatu.
World Vision Vanuatu work closely with the communities that cut the coconut used for our fairly traded organic Virgin Coconut Oil. At one of our meetings, mention was made of the need to educate at the local Agricultural College one of the villagers from within the coconut region. Lav Kokonas were only too pleased to be able to provide that opportunity. World Vision identified the suitable candidates and now Johnas has commenced his 2 year studies in Luganville. We are very excited to be supporting this young man. He is enthusiastic and the knowledge he gains will be of benefit to not only himself, his village, but the wider area that grows, harvests and care for the land where some of our products are sourced from. Lav Kokonas will keep you updated as to Johnas’ progress over the next 2 years. We are soon to meet Johnas and looking forward to spending time in his village.
Sometimes it’s the little things in life that matter and make a difference. We may be a small company and maybe we are only doing small things, but the key is, we are doing!
We are confident that what we, with the help of our customers, are achieving in some small way the culture of “paying it forward” in Vanuatu, and definitely making an impact for those who are on the receiving end of our random acts of kindness.
Thanks for your support and encouragement.
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