Photo: World Vision Vanuatu

On Tuesday April 15, 11 women from a group of detainees at the Port Vila correctional facility handed over the last of the 6,000 calico bags sewn as part of the contract with World Vision to support COVID infection prevention and control in Vanuatu. The bags will be used to hold sanitation items which can be used to protect the recipient from COVID-19.

As part of the handing over ceremony, which included Manager of the Correctional Facilities Mr. Frank Solomon, the women presented hand-made salusalus to express their appreciation. The women’s group leader talked about how the group worked to overcome challenges inside the facility to ensure that the ordered number of bags was completed on time.

“Initially we were planning that each participant in the program would be paid for the bags she made but we realized that we would not reach our targets on time as some had more sewing skills than others, so we gave names to different parts of the bag, and then assigned the name to different women so that we completed the bags as a team.”

Sewing machines, tool kits and training were provided to the women by Human Capacity Development Int (HCDI), a local NGO devoted to inclusion and economic empowerment. Dr. Astrid Kersten, the HCDI Executive Director said “We are excited and blessed to be part of this because of the skills and tools these women now have. They will be blessed to have the opportunity to make a new start when they leave [the correctional facility].”

World Vision is working in partnership with the Vanuatu Ministry of Health, thanks to generous funding by the American government to get COVID prevention training and supplies to over 15,000 individuals in the next three months. When congratulating the women’s group, the World Vision COVID project manager, Brigitte Olul said, “It has been a pleasure to be part of this partnership. These bags, along with the bags from other suppliers will be sent to Tanna and Santo to assist the government with the work it is doing to protect the country from COVID-19.”

The speaker from the women’s group said that she and all other participants in the program are more enthusiastic about leaving the facility with the new tools and ideas that they were able to get from this program.

At the closing ceremony, the women expressed how this project has made a positive impact on their sense of self, their faith in their abilities, and their relations and teamwork. The fulfillment of the full contract will ensure that each of the 11 participating women will leave the Correctional Facility when their time is completed with a new sewing machine and other resources, which will allow them to set up their own sewing businesses and make a new start in life.