We are halfway through the year and can’t believe how much we have achieved already! Our proudest moment this month is launching our first ever independently designed and run program for single mothers – STRONG MAMA! Thank you to Frida Fund for your support in implementing this project and a big thank you to the community who have come together to help us make this program a success. Please see below to check out what else we have been doing this month.
Strong Mama Program
Funded by the Frida Fund, Sista launched its first ever independently run program ‘Strong Mama’ in June 2021. We have been working with 10 single mothers from all ages and backgrounds through a series of creative workshops and a retreat, engaging with artists and self-care specialists to empower women to develop tools to promote positive behavior, connect with each other and develop advocacy messages.
At our first workshop in June, we worked with yoga teacher Katherine Bowden who provided a yoga session while Stephanie and Risu from Exotic Flower Crowns taught the women how to make flower crowns. The women also did a guided journal entry with personalized books created by Joanne Lister (Simple Creations). At our second workshop, Jane Williams taught the women basic jewelry making. This was followed by a retreat at JoJo Vanuatu’s residence where a woman circle was held by Chanelle Bjornum (Tehya Skye Vanuatu) and JoJo facilitated a color therapy silk tie-dye session.
The purpose of these creative activities is to provide basic self-care tools for the women and for the women to feel connected with themselves and build solidarity between each other. We have loved every single workshop and we can’t wait to share our joy with you at the upcoming exhibition showcasing the Strong Mamas’ art in August! Come join us!
‘Review of the Maintenance of Children Act’ stakeholder forum
Supported by PPAC SPC, the stakeholder forum was held on 11th June with the objective of verifying our findings that we had collected through interviews with key stakeholders, research and the outcome of the Single Mama Storian forum to determine whether the proceedings and enforcements under the Maintenance of Children Act support the reality of a single mother raising a child in Vanuatu.
We would like to thank the Vanuatu Police Force, Save the Children, HCDI, Stretem Rod Blong Jastis, Vanuatu Law Reform Commission and other key stakeholders who attended the forum, with a big THANK YOU to SPC PPAC for your support in this project! A recommendations report has been developed and will be circulated and uploaded on the website over the next few weeks.
GO! Cyber workshop
On the 2nd and 3rd of June CARE, ABCID, Sista and four participants from the previous GO Cyber workshops developed storylines for video clips. This work built from the previous workshops that the young women had attended with other young women, where they had identified that the three main challenges to cyber safety were image-based abuse, lateral violence and bullying, and lack of protection and security.
At the beginning of the workshop, we verified that the three main challenges were still relevant, and then split into three groups with each group focusing on one challenge. To assist the participants to develop storylines, we explored the three-act storyline structure, which focuses on the set up, confrontation and resolution, and was guided by producer Markson Taiki of Makatambu who will be producing the videos in the next few months.
As we reach the end of the pre-production stage, we would like to thank ABCID and Portable for their support and trust in making this project come to life.
More on this project here.
Participatory Action Research; ‘Voes Blong Mi’ exhibition
On the 24th, 25th, 29th and 30th of June there was an exhibition created by girls from the age of 12 to 19 years old in Tanna after attending school programs under the Pacific Girl Project. They made posters, brochures, cards and photo-voices to advocate for the issues that they face. Their goal was to raise awareness on these issues, get support and to empower each other. Sista worked alongside CARE to support the advocacy messages. The Pacific Girl Project is funded by DFAT, Australian Aid and is implemented by CARE with the PAR component supported by Sista. Thank you to the CARE team for collaborating with us through our long-term partnership and we look forward to continuing to learn and grow together to advance gender equality in Vanuatu!
‘Sista Gat Style’ Life and Style Magazine
This month we celebrated Excellent Shing. From the island of Ambae and a mother of 4, Excellent has been the Programing and Training Specialist for the Community Health program at Peace Corps Vanuatu for the past 9 years, is a member of the SMART SISTAS committee and a Girls Leading our World (GLOW) facilitator in the SMART SISTAS ICT Camp. Excellent has her hands full but does it all with grace and love. She lives by the quote; “Pause and remember: if you empty yourself of yesterday’s sorrows, you will have much more room for today’s joy.” This quote reminds her to take things one day at a time. Thank you Excellent for the opportunity to celebrate you!
‘Sista Stanap Strong!’ Anthology book launch
‘Sista, Stanap Strong!’ is an anthology of new writing from Vanuatu by three generations of women – and the first of its kind. With poetry, fiction, essay, memoir, and song, its narrative arc stretches from the days of blackbirding to Independence in 1980 to Vanuatu’s coming of age in 2020. The anthology is co-edited by Rebecca Tobo Olul-Hossen and Mikaela Nyman.
As the co-editors have previously worked closely with Sista’s Executive Director in a personal capacity through creative writing activities and have been using the Sista platform to mobilize writers and to promote information about the anthology over the past years, it was fitting to use Sista to facilitate the payment of logistics of the books and materials for the event launch. The organizing committee applied for a grant from New Zealand High Commission that supports small-scale community work and it was accepted.
On Friday 25th June at the Vanuatu Kaljoral Senta, the anthology was successfully launched. Telstar Jimmy was the MC with Viran Molisa opening the event and the New Zealand High Commissioner Jonathan Schwass officially launching the book. The event started off with a mini-writers festival, which was a first of its kind, and involved a panel discussion comprising of contributors to the anthology. Capping off the mini-writer’s festival was readings by the writers. We are so grateful to have been part of this historical event and congratulate the writers and Mikaela and Rebecca for bringing literacy joy to Vanuatu! insert link to latest article
Planning and Preparation
Sista Fashion Show
Our very first fashion show will be happening on the 17th of September. Stay tuned!
Strong Mama Exhibition
Sista will be holding an art exhibition on the 17th of August at Alliance Francaise. The exhibition is going to have a variety of different art pieces that shows the journey of a single mother. There are 10 participants in the program who will be showcasing their pieces but we have also posted a call-out to other single mothers who would be interested in bringing a piece to display on the day of the event. We are working closely with Carole Recreoux to bring this exhibition to life and some of the Sista team members will also be participating in the exhibition.
As a grantee of PPAC under Pacific-Community-SPC, Sista attended PPAC’s capacity-building training skills on lobbying and advocacy approaches to contribute to improved governance, leadership and human rights in the region at the Melanesian hotel. We are fortunate to receive a second round of funding to continue to build on work to reform the Maintenance of Children Act. Thank you SPC PPAC for your trust!
Young Women’s Leadership Program, Third Cycle Graduation
The Young Women’s Leadership Program is a 12-month program, generously funded by the Australian Government, which promotes the leadership of young women so they can take action to promote gender equality and eliminate violence against women and young girls in Vanuatu. Our Communications, Advocacy & Events officer, Umi Nompavos graduated from the program on the 18th of June. The graduation was a celebration of the end of the third cycle and was shared with stakeholders, families, friends, mentors, CARE staff and Australian High Commission. It was also announced that Sista will be collaborating with CARE Vanuatu to carry out the fourth cycle of the program – THANK YOU CARE for this opportunity to collaborate with you in our shared vision of achieving gender equality in Vanuatu!
Famili Redi IOM and world Vision
On the 4th of June our Senior Project Officer Dominique Seagoe attended the Famili i Redi workshop by . The core Famili i Redi 5-day workshop provided holistic tools, skills and strategies for labour migrants and their intimate partners, with modules about what to expect from overseas work, healthy relationships, gender-based violence prevention and family financial management, which includes budgeting, saving, reducing the cost of remittance transfers and entrepreneurship upon reintegration in Vanuatu. An optional 6th day also provides in-depth, interactive education on nutrition, with a practicum on cooking nutritious meals with ingredients available in Australia.
Asia-Pacific Generation Equality Dialogue: Feminist Movements and Leadership
The Executive Director, Yasmine Bjornum, attended a panel discussion focused on strengthening adolescent girl-led, youth-led and youth-serving movements and organizations. As one of only two Pacific representatives, Yasmine spoke about the importance of remembering that each country has different contexts and ‘one size does not fit all’ when it comes to progressing gender equality.
This virtual dialogue was co-organized by UN Women Asia-Pacific and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Headquarters and Asia -Pacific sub-regional offices on the 17th June 2021.
Today, not a single country can claim to have achieved true gender equality. Globally – feminist leaders, movements, and organizations are key drivers towards equal rights and opportunities for all. These pioneers for gender equality continue to be underfunded and excluded from positions of power and decision-making at all levels.
Ananda Yoga lunch
On the 30th of June the Sista team went to Ananda Yoga for a delicious and healthy lunch. It is the first of many more to come because at Sista we believe in self-care and taking a moment for our health and energy so that we can effectively do our job. Thank you Tu for your energy and love, we adore you!