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Paying it Forward in Vanuatu prior to Pam

2015 had proven to be incredibly busy on the “Paying it forward” front for me, prior to Cyclone Pam.

Here’s a snippet of what “paying it forward” looks like this year.


One of several micro enterprise projects I am developing with Ni Vanuatu ladies, to create items around jewellery mainly for the tourist market, but not discounting the appeal for ni Vanuatu consumers also.  The initial project started with ni Vanuatu women working in New Zealand, and developed into working one-on-one with two Mammas in Vanuatu.  More about that later.

Jewellery project
Earrings were the first pieces of jewellery made


Football gear

Once again we have had a generous donation from the Suburbs Football Club of 14 teams of shirts (ranging from small children through to adult sizes).   Most of these have been distributed to Ni Vanuatu workers that are in New Zealand at the moment for the fruit season.   Their “payment” for the team shirts was deflating the 150 second hand footballs that were donated for the Club!   It would have taken me all day to do, so great that the men were keen, and getting an understanding of how this “pay it forward” concept works.   The Football Club received some really good local media coverage about the donation, and as a result of that, two other projects I was working on, got a whole lot more coverage.


Lucky villages who receive these gifts
Some of the Ni Vanuatu men helped to delate about 150 footballs

Basket Blong Titi – I love that bislama term for bra

This idea came about when talking with the RSE ni Vanuatu ladies soon after their arrival in New Zealand for another fruit season.   I asked them what kind of things would be helpful to them and their families back home, if I was able to collect from people in my community.   I mentioned bras and they were instantly interested.   My own observation when staying in rural areas of Vanuatu, that often ni Vanuatu that did have a bra, either was poorly fitted or had lost its life.  Of course there were of course ladies who weren’t interested at all in wearing bras.  The ladies told me that the bras available inVanuatu, that they could afford, we’re often of poor qauality, so when in New Zealand they would buy bras from second hand stores here.

After a few Facebook posts and then coverage in a local community newspaper, The Nelson Weekly, I had over 1,000 pairs bras to sort through.   We were fortunate that through a Vanuatu connection in Christchurch, the organisation, Uplift, who had a large over supply,  donated the Nelson bras they still had here.   Lea from Captivation, donated the Uplift supply as well as some end of line brand new bras.  I have to make it clear that I was not imposing my western views, that ALL women just wear a bra, but gave the opportunity for those rural living ni Vanuatu ladies who wanted a bra will be able to do so.

March 2015 263


At the same time as the “bra drive” I also put the word out for linen.  What arrived and was collected by me was astounding.  Approximately 1.5 cubic metres of linen donated to more than 80 Ni Vanuatu workers in the Nelson and Marlborough area.  All these donations will be welcomed, particularly in light of the devastation of Cyclone Pam.


It’s only half way through 2015 – I think we’re coming along just nicely thanks 🙂

What’s next?

Watch this space.


#LavKokonas   #PayingItForwardInVanuatu

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