April is Sista’s BIRTHDAY!

From facilitating workshops on Tanna and in Vila, attending partner events, bidding farewell to a soon to be mum, to acknowledging national and regional events, the energy in the team was constantly flowing – even on the hard days!

Before we bid farewell to Sista’s Project Coordinator as she left the team to start her new adventure as first-time mother, we welcomed the lovely Lilly to the team! She is Sista’s new Logistics & Procurement Officer and since joining the organization, our project activities have slightly better flow now – we’re so glad that she’s joined us!

We celebrated our 8th birthday on the 25th of April! Since 2016, Sista has been continuously growing and learning with each other and from our wonderful partners, donors and people who have joined the movement. Our team wouldn’t be where it is today without all your support, advice and partnership, so we are truly thankful for each and every one of you!

Sista’s Project Officer and Acting Program Manager took lead in facilitating the feminism and cyber safety workshops under the Young Women’s Leadership Program (YWLP) with CARE. The two young women went down to Tanna to meet with the YWLP participants based in Lenakel, facilitate the workshops, hold the mentorship session, and then travelled back to Port Vila to run the same show again!

This was followed by call out to interested organisations to host an intern from YWLP. This was followed by a lot of planning, follow up calls and emails with organisations who were eager to host one of the YWLP participants on internship basis.

Throughout the month Sista continued to help spread awareness on our Facebook page about how, where and when to register for voting in the upcoming referendum.

The Communications team at Sista helped support the EPIC LIFE Program under the WASH Portfolio at World Vision Vanuatu, by creating a cute poster advertising an upcoming FREE sewing class they were holding. The EPIC LIFE PROGRAM empowers people with information about caring for people with disabilities using locally made inclusive functional equipment. The sewing class entailed interested men and women receiving training to create locally made products such as, incontinence underwear, wash mitts, waterproof wheelchair seat covers and more.

Later on in the month, Sista attended an evening event with our partners from Balance of Power where we celebrated and acknowledged the remarkable women featured in, “Nation Builders: Celebrating women in the Private Sector”. The evening was not only an opportunity to reflect on these inspiring stories from inspiring women, but to hand over the portraits created for each of them for the official launch last year.

And finally we celebrated World Health day by shining light back on our Strong Mama Nutrition booklet, we acknowledged the 20 female candidates who were running in the elections in Solomon Islands, we acknowledged the work Peace Corps Vanuatu was doing for Sexual Assault Awareness month and shed light on the Public Service Commission’s efforts to hold Vanuatu’s Ministry of Health accountable in settling the grievances of VCH nurses.

This has got to be one of the busiest months by far for the team so keep reading to find out what else we achieved!

 

Projects

Yasmine Bjornum – Sista Gat Style, Vanuatu Daily Post

In April, we celebrated the unstoppable force that is Yasmine Bjornum!

Juggling her roles as the founder and Executive Director of Sista and the coolest mum to her amazing 9-year-old, Talarei, Yasmine is all about finding joy in the little things – like beach days, family hangouts and unexpected adventures with her daughter.

Rooted in her belief in the power of positive affirmations, Yasmine navigates life with unwavering commitment to self-love and striving towards inner harmony. Her style? Think comfy meets playful with a sprinkle of eco-consciousness.

Yasmine’s energy and passion for life are contagious, and she’s here to show us all how to embrace our unique selves!

#SistaGatStyle #WomanVanuatu #CoolMum #Passionate #Daring #Beautiful #Thoughtful

 

Sikmun Storian – Amabssade De France

This month the Communications team at Sista started cross sharing stories from the Sikmun Storian booklet (https://www.sistalibrary.com.vu/sikmun-storian-booklet/). By posting one story per week on our Facebook and Instagram platform, we hope to bring our online follower’s attention to the amazing stories shared by these women and overall help break the stigma around menstrual periods.

 

Vois Blong Mi Project – CARE

We are excited to be partnering with the Vois Blong Mi team at CARE to create three short films advocating for issues being faced by young women. We worked closely with the youth actors from Wan Smolbag and have been filming over the weekends to work around their busy schedules. It meant early mornings and late evenings – but we got it done!

The first film around ‘Burden of household chores and the last film around ‘Teenage Pregnancy’ were shot at Mele and Freshwota school and the second film around ‘Menstruation’ was shot at Black Sands and Freshwota school.

Keep your eye out for these short, empowering films!

 

Round Table Podcast – We Rise Coalition & PACMAS

The Communications team at Sista finally released Episode 18 this month!

On this episode Melissa Bule, a young woman from the island of Pentecost, and a Young Women’s Leadership Program Alumni, joins Elsie to share her experience and advice for young women entering the workforce in Vanuatu. Melisaa shares her experience, the advice she was given when she started her first job, and her tips to young women looking at joining the workforce.

Catch us on the Sista website to join the conversation: https://www.sista.com.vu/podcast/


Condensed WASH ToT – World Vision Vanuatu

On the 3rd of April, the team attended a condensed Training of Trainers (ToT) session at World Vision with the ICR WASH Portfolio. It was facilitated by Pamela Carlo and Ellis Lee from the WASH team and attended by members of the Sista team including Elsie Molou, Josepheen Tarianga, and Talula-Fay Taribakeo.

The session aimed to raise awareness among the Sista team regarding ICR WASH community training. Led by the WASH team, it sought to enhance understanding and engagement with approximately 21 communities involved in the project.

Various materials, including facilitator guides, community flipbooks, and annexes, were shared by the WASH team during the training. The training introduced topics covered in eleven sessions, addressing issues, challenges, and improvement strategies in WASH, including interactive activities such as WASH mapping and hazard assessment.

The TOT training session fostered collaboration, knowledge sharing, and community engagement essential for the success of the ICR WASH project.

Young Women Leadership Program on Tanna – CARE

The Tanna YWLP Workshops, held on April 8th and 9th, as part of the Young Women’s Leadership Program (YWLP), were hosted by CARE and SISTA. The workshops aimed to empower 10 young women from various communities on Tanna through sessions on feminism and cybersafety. Facilitated by Josepheen Tarianga and Talula Taribakeo, participants engaged in activities exploring concepts like defining feminism, understanding feminist movements, and debunking myths. Despite challenges such as jargon-heavy content in the pre-test and time constraints, the workshops fostered insightful discussions and active participation, highlighting the importance of tailored delivery and adapting to the participants’ needs.

Moreover, the workshops’ highlights included the active engagement of participants, their application of workshop concepts to their community context, and the seamless collaboration between CARE and SISTA teams in logistics and facilitation. Notable challenges, such as time constraints, unfamiliarity with certain concepts like Snapchat, and the need for louder participation, were addressed. Moving forward, the SISTA team aims to overcome these challenges by adapting activities and delivery styles for more effective workshops, particularly in Tafea. These workshops provided valuable learning experiences for both participants and facilitators, setting the stage for continued empowerment and advocacy efforts in Vanuatu.

Additionally, the Tanna YWLP Mentorship event, held on April 10th at the Apera Beach Front Bungalow in Lenakel, Tanna, featured a panel discussion focused on confidence-building. Kaloka Wilfred, a former police officer and YWLP mentor, provided valuable perspectives. The discussion covered various topics, including the characteristics of a confident woman, misconceptions, and the importance of confidence building for young women in Vanuatu. Kaloka emphasized the significance of community support, legal knowledge, and education in fostering confidence among young women. Despite challenges like the absence of one panelist and a delayed start, the organizers plan to address these for future events through better coordination and planning, aiming to maximize the impact of similar activities.

 

Young Women Leadership Program in Port Vila – CARE

Wednesday, 24th April, 2024 Feminism Workshop, Thursday, 25th April, 2024 Morning Session for the Social Media Online Safety and the afternoon session for the Mentorship

Wednesday 24th April and Thursday 25th April were allocated for the Young Women’s Leadership Program (YWLP) workshop and mentorship event with the Port Vila participants. The workshops and mentorship convened at the VSPD conference room to participate in the event facilitated by the Sista team.

Sista’s Acting Program Manager, Josepheen Tarianga, facilitated the first part of the feminism workshop in the morning, while Sista’s Executive Director, Yasmine Bjornum, took over for the afternoon session. A total of 20 young women attended both the workshops and the mentorship event. It was encouraging to observe their active engagement and background knowledge in feminism and online safety. Participants collaborated in groups, sharing ideas about the topics and discussing how they could apply them to their life journeys.

The mentorship session on the following day featured a panel discussion moderated by Josepheen Tarianga. Panelists included Jinny Reuben, Justine Pikioune, and Jeanine Shem. The session commenced with the moderator introducing the panelists and outlining the purpose of the discussion, which aimed to provide insights into building confidence as a young woman. Participants interacted by asking questions, and the panelists offered encouragement to help bolster their self-confidence. The mentorship session concluded around 4:30PM.

 

Other News

Growth at Sista

This month, we have a new addition to the finance and admin team,Ms Lily Edna Maki. Lily is 24 years old and joined the Sista team on the 2nd of April 2024, as Sista’s Logistics and Procurement Officer. We would like to thank the other candidates that have applied for this role as well. Welcome on board Lily. We look forward to working, learning and growing with you.


Meeting with US Ambassador

The Executive Director had the pleasure of meeting US Ambassador to the Republic of Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea (PNG), and the Solomon Islands, Ann Marie Yastishock. This was her first visit to Vanuatu and Sista with other civil society members and stakeholders including Vanuatu Human Rights for Change, Transparency International, Teouma Women’s Association, Further Arts and Balance of Power met with Ambassador Yastishock and her team to discuss how we are progressing against gender equality in Vanuatu.

 

We Rise Coalition Steering Committee Meeting

The monthly We Rise Coalition Steering Committee meeting was held on April 17th to reflect on the CSW68 experience and discuss the upcoming ED Gathering on the Coral Coast. The Sista team is looking forward to phase 4 of the We Rise Coalition and how we can work with coalition to strengthen movement building in Vanuatu and organisational strengthening of Sista.

 

Nation Builder Portrait Handover with Balance of Power

In 2023, Sista partnered with Balance of Power (BoP) to create the second book in the Nation Builders series. In the first Nation builders’ book, women in the public sector and their contributions to the countries’ developments were given the limelight and in the second book we celebrated 40 Ni-Vanuatu women in the private sector who have contributed to the development of Vanuatu. This booklet was launched in October of 2023 with a gallery set up at Tanna Russet showcasing the wonderful women who were a part of this second book with excerpts of their stories.

On Wednesday 17th April, there was an event hosted by the BoP and the Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) to hand over the portraits of the women that were hung up in the gallery at the launching event. The women who were a part of this book were invited as well as stakeholders of both VCCI and BoP to celebrate the occasion.

The We Rise Coalition Communications and Advocacy Coordinator in her role as Acting program  Manager and the Sista Communications and Advocacy Coordinator attended the event on behalf of Sista and joined in celebrating the women nation builders once more.

 

Vanuatu Australia Policing and Justice Program Phase 3 Design – NGO & CSO Roundtable

On 29th April 2024, Sista was invited to participate in a roundtable towards the development of the the design for the next phase of the Vanuatu Australia Policing and Justice Program (2024-2028) as the current phase ends in December 2024.

The roundtable provided an opportunity for the Australian Government through its consultants to identify the gaps in the policing and justice sectors in Vanuatu, and how Australia’s support could best be better positioned to address these gaps.

The Round Table provided an opportunity for the NGO’s and CSOs to support the strengthening of the next phase of VAPJ but also allowed the attending organizations understand more in depth the challenges and work of other attending organizations and how their work links with the policing and justice system and to what extent.

 

Australia Pacific Training Coalition (APTC) Design team meeting

The current phase of the APTC program is drawing to a close and the Australian Government is in the new stages of developing the next phase of the program. As part of this development, DFAT is engaging with partners across the Pacific and Timor Leste to hear more about their skills and partnership skills priorities, understand the lessons learned from previous efforts and how APTC can work together with partners to improve skills and development work across the region.

Sista was asked to be a part of these consultations for the APTC program in Vanuatu and the development of its next phase. The We Rise Communications and Advocacy Coordinator attended this consultation behalf of Sista in her capacity as the Acting Program Manager.

 

Safeguarding Training with World Vision Vanuatu

Later in month, Sista was invited to a safeguarding training organized by one of our partners, World Vision Vanuatu.

The aim of the training was to understand what Safeguarding means and how does it apply in our context. It was a great learning experience for the Sista team and the other participants that have attended the training. What we have learned from the training is how to respond to distress and disclosures when we ever come across this kind of case. We thank World Vision Vanuatu for this amazing learning opportunity.

Strengthening Sista’s Logistics & Procurement Procedures

The team has established a solid transport agreement for the SISTA team, ensuring a reliable transportation service for their needs. After careful consideration, the team has chosen to partner with Fenua Transportation to support their project activities. The decision was made official during an interview conducted by Sista’s HR & Finance Manager, Regina Ova, and Logistics & Procurement Officer, Lilly Maki.

Following the meeting, the team was notified that the contract would be sent via email. On April 18th, we celebrated a significant achievement as the fully signed contract from Fenua Tours was received, marking a pivotal moment in empowering the SISTA team with their activities.

Finance Consultancy Support – Marilou Cajot

During the first and second week of April, the finance team submitted the finance reports for both CARE and We Rise for the reporting period: January 24 – March 24. Thanks to our wonderful finance consultant, Marilou Cajot, for all her support.

Farewell – for now – to our Project Coordinator!

On the 12th of April, we threw a baby shower for our Project Coordinator before she went on maternity leave. This is the first time Sista has ever had one of their staff go on maternity leave so it is a learning opportunity for our HR Manager to practice and strengthen her skills in this area. We wish our wonderful project coordinator best of luck on her new adventure into motherhood and can’t wait to welcome her back in June!