A group photo of the IWG members with the Head of State and First Lady. Photo: Kizzy Kalsakau.

Ten members of the Vanuatu International Women’s Group (IWG) have been awarded with medals of recognition by the Head of State, Nikenike Vurobaravu.

Koyama Chintana, Beverly Sands, Marylin Serrano, late June Hodder, Kathy Mandel, Jenny Ligo, Veena Kumar, Desley Tunstall, Tania Poindi and Letty Kaltonga were awarded on Thursday this week, in recognition of their contributions to supporting women, children and families through the multicultural non-profit organisation.

IWG Founder Chintana was decorated with two medals, the 40th Independence Anniversary Medal and the General Service Medal.

IWG has been supporting needy women earn an income to support their families, through small projects such as donating sewing machines. The majority of these women come from low-income households and are the sole earners.

The group began in 1988 as the UN Ladies and Friends to provide a stimulating social cultural exchange and networking group for women of all nationalities in Vanuatu.

Its inception came about when the United Nations personnel arrived to work in Vanuatu and the group’s first president was Ati Kuboni.

By 1992, most of the UN people had left Vanuatu, and the group changed its name to the International Ladies Group, and had become involved in fundraising for projects that mainly benefit Vanuatu women and children.

By 1997 its name was changed again to the IWG.

Its aim is to welcome all women of different nationalities in a social environment. The broad focus of the group is to raise funds to finance projects to help women and children.

This can be extended to encompass the wider community in need, such as schools, hospitals and specific groups, such as the people with disability.

Its objectives are to provide a forum to make friends and a networking group for women who are new to Vanuatu; to contribute resources to the community where needed.

Women of different nations are involved including Vanuatu, Australia, Philippines, Japan, Thailand, India, Fiji, New Zealand, France, China, Nepal, Korea, Netherlands, to name some very famous in the International Food Festival with their different dishes as a major fundraising for the IWG.

This year’s IWG International Food Festival was held last Saturday. Money raised from the event will be used to finance its projects.