U.S. Ambassador Catherine Ebert-Gray proudly recognized Nikita Taiwia of Vanuatu, as the 2019 Women of Courage, for her humanitarian work through her organization, ‘Strong Fiuja’.

Strong Fiuja, provides support and shelter to victims of domestic violence to fight for justice and for the rights of all people, notably young women who have been victims of sexual assault.

Ambassador Ebert-Gray in her official remarks, said Nikita’s work is a beacon of hope for many unfortunate women who have fallen victims to sexual abuse and domestic violence in Vanuatu.

“Instead of letting these challenges defeat her, she continues to insist, in any forum she can, on the basic truth that sexual violence against women and children is never acceptable,” said Ambassador Ebert-Gray.

Since establishing her foundation ‘Strong Fiuja’ in 2014, Nikita continues to face social stigma, with some members of her community expressing concern that sexual violence is a family matter that should not be made public. Nikita however, refuses to let such views, and even threats criticizing her work deter her focus.

Nikita provides legal, psychosocial, educational and financial support for vulnerable children, many of whom have been victims of sexual assault or abuse.

Nikita first started this course, when two young girls confided in her, the years of sexual abuse they had endured in their homes. After initially supporting the girls to navigate the justice sector and go to school, Nikita saw the great need for further in-country support, particularly in case management.

She has dedicated the past five years of her life, and most of her personal savings and earnings, to this cause. She provides all essential services to children and single mothers who stay in her residence, and to many other vulnerable children and women.

Each year, the U.S. Embassy in Port Moresby selects three Women of Courage, one each from Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu.

This year’s 2019 US Ambassador’s Women of Courage Award ceremony was hosted by the Vanuatu U.S. Alumni Association, and supported by the U.S. Embassy Port Moresby.