We all have something in common. It’s something we do every day. It doesn’t matter if we are female or male, living in town or in the bush, we all need to go to the toilet. Give some thought to how it must be if you are living with a disability and simply making your way to the toilet, or bucket, is difficult.

That will be a lot easier now, for recipients of products made in Vanuatu, because of assistance from the Canadian Government through the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CLFI). Mammas Laef Vanuatu are aiming to help 160 people living with disability, who will receive Vanuatu-made reusable incontinence products. The products are manufactured in Pango village by the Mammas Laef team, and will be distributed to clients of Vanuatu Society for People with Disability.

Mary, from Mammas Laef told us, “We make different products to suit men and women. We have been developing our own designs of reusable hygiene products over the past year and making reusable sikmun pads since 2015.”

Alex Croyle, Development Assistant at the Canadian High Commission in Australia visited Port Vila this week and took the opportunity to meet the team in Pango to see the Canada Fund in action.

“The Canadian government is pleased to support this local initiative to increase the accessibility of health and hygiene materials for people living with disability in Vanuatu,” he said.

Jack Kalsrap who co-owns the business with his wife Mary explains, “a few months ago, we travelled around Port Vila with VSPD Field Workers and visited families who need our products. Assessments were made, products were used and then we completed feedback interviews. It was our hope that we can get these products to more people, to make their lives a bit easier and give them more dignity. Now we can expand on that, thanks to the Canada Fund for local Initiatives”.

For those living with a disability, toileting can mean an added challenge to get through every day. It’s not an easy topic to talk about and that is one of the challenges that Mammas Laef Vanuatu is tackling in partnership with Vanuatu Society for People with Disability.

The Canada Fund will provide those families with the ability to not only reduce their waste to the landfill, for those who were using disposable products, but also break down some of the barriers around this personal topic while using a sustainable product made in Vanuatu.

Mary and Jack Kalsrap employ a team of mammas to manufacture reusable hygiene products. Mary explains, “We were visiting some islands in April 2017, distributing Rotary sponsored reusable sik mun pads when the issue of incontinence became very clear. Older women, with no sik mun wanted the pads.

“The Founder of our group was with us at the time, and she started to look at new products for us to manufacture, so we could help people with no kontrolem pispis”.

“We operate as a Social Enterprise. It’s like a marriage of charity and business,” Jack explains, “it’s a blend of doing social good and developing over time, a sustainable business.

“We are about supporting women to take control of their lives, and we do that by manufacturing personal hygiene products, distributing them to those that need them, while helping to develop the Vanuatu economy by employing locals. All of our team are developing skills. It’s very rewarding. Every day, we know we are making a difference.”