August was a BUSY month for Sista!
We spent most of August planning for our many different projects that also includes our upcoming Fashion Show ‘Yumi Gat Style’! (supported by Ambassade de France and in partnership with Vanuatu Skills Partnership) Despite all the challenges we came across, Sista continues to overcome them and keep moving forward.
The highlight of this month was launching our ‘Strong Mama’ exhibition. It was beautiful and powerful! A massive thank you to all the Mama’s who made an art piece for the exhibition, your efforts are deeply appreciated. Also we were thrilled to have worked with one of our partners CARE Vanuatu and Matakambu‘s film producer, Markson Taiki, filming 3 short awareness videos for the GO! Cyber project. We are so very excited to see the outcome and the impact of these videos!
The most exciting thing of all was getting the keys to our new office. The Sista team is ecstatic about moving into a bigger space and to start making it beautiful! This wouldn’t be possible without the support from our fundraising efforts of the Sista Singsing Fundraiser held in April this year! This new space will allow us to continue the work that we do in a more comfortable space.We welcomed a new Project Officer, Delta Tjiobang to the team and said goodbye to the first ever Sista team member, Elisa Mondou. Although we were happy to receive a new member we were also sad to see one go, but nonetheless we are happy for Elisa and her new journey. As we all know, “The end of a journey means the beginning of another one.”
Strong Mama Exhibition Launch
On Tuesday 17th August 2021, Sista launched the ‘Strong Mama’ exhibition at Alliance Francaise. This was Sista’s first ever independently run program and it is now complete! Artworks in different mediums were showcased showing the life of a mother, with a special focus on single mothers. The exhibition was the last activity in the ‘Strong Mama’ program, which has taken 10 single mothers based in Port Vila on a journey of reflection and healing.
The exhibition was launched by Deputy Lord Mayor Jenny Tasale Regenvanu and humanitarian Dawn Reubenl! Many came down to Alliance Francaise to see all the amazing artwork. The exhibition was open from the 17th till the 20th of August for all who were interested to have a look.
Sista Gat Style – Alice Athy
Our August feature of Sista Gat Style in the Life & Style Magazine was a well known entrepreneur throughout Vanuatu as ‘Alice Seaweed’ or ‘Alice Tank’ because of her innovative work in the community, Alice Athy is a woman who is as driven as she is beautiful. A self-made woman and a seaweed entrepreneur, she is very creative in making not only skin and hair care products but food products as well – all from seaweed! Outspoken, loud and a lover of life, Alice values honesty above all else and loves to help others.
Thank you for being an inspiration Alice!
Planning and preparation
Designer Workshop, ‘Yumi Gat Style’ – Vanuatu Fashion Show
On the 10th of August Sista had a Designer’s workshop at the Retreat, Seaside. We invited 10 designers based in Port Vila, 1 based in Tanna and 4 based in Santo from VSP’s textile group, who have asserted that they want to take their fashion designer skills to the next level by applying to be a part of our show in March 2021.
- To support and prepare the designers in producing their designs
- Empowering women and men (models) by using fashion as an innovative entry point to safely express themselves
- Address gender inequality in Vanuatu in a safe space and promote body positivity
Big thanks to Jojo Vanuatu – local fashion expert & consultant, you held the space beautifully, the designers learnt a lot of valuable knowledge from you that will not only help them for the fashion show but also build their capacities for their individual journeys as professional & hopefully international designers of the future!
Shortly after the designer’s workshop, we also had another on the 14th of August, Sista held a Model’s workshop. In this workshop we had Zoe Macfarlane, a former model who has had years of experience in the fashion industry in the Asia-Pacific region come in and talk to our models about fashion, modeling and how to catwalk, which was one of the objectives of the workshop. The other objectives was to explore body positivity, mindfulness and explore what are the beauty standards in Vanuatu and how can we shape and define what we think beauty means to us. We also had Jojo Vanuatu come in to help out as well!
Spotlight Initiative ‘Journey to Change’
The project funded by the Spotlight Initiative is called ‘Journey to change’ – Vanuatu Storian on GBV’, where based on the stories of those on the path change and it’s challenges of IPV (Intimate partner violence) & GBV, we will be producing a documentary and illustrated booklet that demonstrates what has and not worked, and what can and must happen to create change. Hence why we are kick starting our interviews, starting with the organizations ! We can’t wait for you to see the final product!
From the 11th to the 25th of August one of our Project Officer and Communications, Advocacy & Events Officer were out on the field working with CARE Vanuatu and film producder of Matakambu, Markson Taiki, filming 3 short videos to advocate and raise awareness on Cyber Safety for girls.
Cyber safety is a growing concern in the Pacific, with high rates of social media penetration among internet users, The GO! project aims to empower young women to meaningfully engage online in Tonga and in Vanuatu as well.
The 3 short videos are about Image Based Abuse, Lack of Protection/Security and Lateral Violence & Bullying.
The themes of these clips are as follows:
- Safe internet practices
- What kind of behaviour is okay versus not okay,
- Asking ones consent before using their content/photos
- Show how to be supportive and receive support when it comes to matters of social media
- what exactly is Cyber-Bullying and what types are there
- Women supporting women, not bullying each other online as well as offline
- Ways to be supported in reporting incidents
Sista has been a part of this project from the very beginning. With a series of workshops in November 2020 and ending in June 2021. In these workshops the girls talked about the issues they face online, then pinpointed the main issues they feel is important to address. Then later came up with ways to advocate for these issues and came to the conclusion that a series of clips/videos is the best way to do it.
The project is supported by a grant from Australia’s Cyber and Critical Tech Cooperation Program , which aims to improve cyber resilience for girls online.
It is our hope that these short films will make a positive impact and change people’s perspective on the issues that our young girls face on Social Media.
Sista & CARE, GET Team Lunch
“We have a powerful potential in our youth, and we must have the courage to change old ideas and practices so that we may direct their power toward good ends.” -Mary McLeod Bethune
On the 10th of August, the GET team from CARE and the Sista had lunch to bond and think about how we will be implementing the 4th cycle of the YWLP (Young Women’s Leadership Program) this year.
This program has been empowering female youths for the past 3 years and will continue to do so for another cycle! Sista is very grateful to be a part of this amazing program in view of the fact that it will strengthen the future of our young women!
Sista’s Executive Director and Program Manager also participated in the final selection process of YWLP on 29th and 30th August.
“Realizing pathways to leadership – Rising From the Ashes” – Panel Discussion
Our Executive Director, Yasmine Bjornum featured in a panel discussion alongside Dorosday Kenneth Watson, Marie Louise Carcasses, Shirley Laban Tokon and Jennifer Kalpokas. The discussion was a part of the Phoenix Women in Business Program where Vanuatu Business Resilience Council and Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce and Industry work alongside women business owners providing business and leadership capacity development as well as grants for their business and was also supported by Balance of Power.
Sista Stanap Strong Books Distribution
We supported the Sista Stanap Strong team to deliver books to Malapoa College, PVIS and Vanuatu National Library. On Friday 13th August, Malapoa College, a school of over 1,500 students, received a copy of the ‘Sista, Stanap Strong!’ book for the school for the library.
The book was handed over by Elisa Mondou and Rebecca Tobo Olul-Hossen, both alumnis, as well as key members of the project team.
The Principal, Mr. Shem Beru Simon said, “The anthology will be a great resource for the school. It will be used as part of the teaching resource. We look forward to continued collaboration with the ‘Sista, Stanap Strong!’ team to support and nurture creative writing at the school and in Vanuatu”.
On 12 August, the project team handed over vt45,000 cheque donation to the Vanuatu Kaljoral Senta for hosting the launch of Vanuatu’s first women’s anthology, Sista, Stanap Strong! and two copies of the anthology donated by the project team. One copy of the book will go to the Vanuatu National Library and the second will go to the Vanuatu National Archives.
The Director of the VKS (Vanuatu Kaljoral Senta), Mr. Richard Shing, said, “Often we overlook the place and voice of women in Vanuatu society. Thank you for reminding us through the texts in this book to continue to include the voices of women. We are grateful to your team for this donation. The book going to the library will be read by the current and future generations to come.”
Media Association of Vanuatu (MAV) Court Reporting Training
On the 3rd, 4th, 10th and 11th of August, one of our Project Officers attended a court reporting training for four days at the VBTC conference room. This training was facilitated by Mr Tony Wilson On behalf of the Media association of Vanuatu with support from PACMAS. The main purpose of the training was to support the media to become more confident crime and court journalists with a better understanding of our rights and restrictions when it comes to reporting on issues of justice in Vanuatu.
August Financial Report
Sista’s First Draft Finance Manual is out, that is an achievement in itself for the Sista Finance Department! We are also in the midst of updating and implementing the Finance Manuel into the system, making sure it reflects Sista’s values and ready for approval from the Sista Committee Board members. One of the highlights of this month is the cheque donation of 45,000 VT to the Vanuatu Kaljoral Senta plus two sets of ‘Stanap Strong’ Books; one for the National Archive and the other to VKS.
To add on, the Sista Stanap Strong Team donated another set of cheque for 35,000 VT plus a S.S book to the Vanuatu Children Literature, that Sista has the privilege to help organize and manage the fund from the Vanuatu Women Anthology Book launching event funded by the NZ High Commission. Apart from all that excitement, we are also wrapping up this month with a few finance reports especially for our main partners such as WE RISE and SPOTLIGHT Initiative.
We Rise Rise Virtual Retreat
On the 4th of August, our Projects Team Leader, Dominique Seagoe joined the We Rise Coalition partners along with Brown Girl Woke, Fiji Women’s Rights Movement, femLINKpacific, International Women’s Development Agency – IWDA, Sista, Talitha Project, Tonga Voice For Change and Jiwaka,PNG in completing a two day August virtual retreat. The partners also shared the impact of Covid-19 on personal welfare and program delivery, and vaccine hesitation. This sisterhood is stronger, together!
Farewell to Sista’s first ever Team Member
“The end of a new journey means the beginning of another one”
On the 31st of August we held a small farewell party in our office to say goodbye to our beloved Project Officer, Elisa Mondou. She is leaving Sista to continue her final studies at university studying psychology and Social Work. Elisa was the first to come on to Sista. She will be dearly missed by the whole team! We wish you well in your new journey Elisa!