One of our favourite quotes in the office is, “We are not monks in the mountain – we are in the trenches with you.” We don’t see ourselves as gender experts – we see ourselves as ordinary women creating a space to bring about change. We may not be perfect, but we do commit to being better people every day, but lately it seems we have been working a lot on administrative and finance systems, which can take away valuable time from the work that really matters to us.
After signing our strategic partnership with CARE, we are excited to announce that we have two consultancies available – one is a Human Resources and Administration Consultancy and the other is a Finance Management Consultancy to set up an appropriate finance management, human resources, administrative and support systems to enable us to manage our growing donor grant funding portfolio.
It will be wonderful to get some consultants in to help us strengthen our systems so we can get back to doing what we love best – which is working, learning and growing with the women of Vanuatu!
This work is not possible without the support of our partners such as CARE, through Australian Aid, who have also generously provided the Sista team with two new laptops, laptop bags and two computer monitors this month. Did you know that the Executive Director has been using the same laptop since 2013? These laptops will take our work to another level and help us with all our projects, and it means we can provide our older laptops to the volunteers who come into the office. Thank you CARE and Australian Aid!
We are pleased to announce more good news – after doing a brief voluntary stint with us, we have recruited Dominique Seagoe as our Senior Project Officer. Dominique is working three days a week and has already proven to be a valuable member of the Sista squad – we are so grateful to have you Domi!
Participatory Action Research (PAR) workshop
From May 10 – 21, the Sista team went to Tanna to implement a Participatory Action Research (PAR) workshop with adolescent girls, following from the Trainer of Trainers held in April with the CARE team, including their Community Facilitators. The objective of the workshop was to mobilize the adolescent girls to produce a plan for an advocacy activity, which they will do in their community after the workshop is completed. Sista will be following up to assist with their planning remotely and look forward to sharing their plans.
PAR is a component of the Vois Blong Mi (VBM) project, which is supported by the Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development Program’s Pacific Girl initiative. #AustralianAid
‘Sista Gat Style’ Life and Style magazine
This month we celebrated our very own Senior Project Officer, Dominique Seagoe! Raised on a plantation, Dominique’s family has been in Vanuatu for four generations. Fluent in French, English and Bislama, Dominique’s favorite quote is “All I know is that I know nothing”.
She says that this quote is a daily reminder for her to stay humble and to remember that she is a simple human being learning her way through life one step at a time.
‘Single Mama Storian’ forum
With the support of PPAC through SPC, we have been reviewing the Maintenance of Children Act by conducting interviews with key stakeholders and single mothers to determine if the manner of proceedings and enforcement of maintenance orders is relevant and if the sum of 1000 VT a week reflects today’s standard of living. We would like to thank Ntalpuk Ning Epang Faum (NNEFA) Association for their assistance in conducting interviews with single mothers in their networks to help us collate our information.
We held a ‘Single Mama Storian’ on Wednesday 26th May to verify our research and to hear the challenges that single mothers face and identify solutions together. Key stakeholders were also present and we are thankful for the solidarity from the Vanuatu Law Reform Commission and Department of Women’s Affairs, and of course to the single mothers for having the courage to share their stories. We look forward to holding a stakeholders meeting in June to share our findings and produce a recommendations report.
Cyberbullying incident arising from Club Lit dance competition
A twerk competition was held at a nightclub and the participants were shamed online, with images circulating throughout social media and calls were made to church and chiefs to ban ‘nightclubs’. In this case, we were disturbed that people were more outraged by the dance moves rather than the fact that some people are posting and circulating photos of these girls in unflattering angles without their consent.
We released a statement, which you can read here.
Planning and Preparation
‘Strong Mama’ Program
10 single mothers have been selected into the program, which is launching in June. This month we have been securing venues and trainers to assist us with implementing the workshops. Not long now until we start and we can’t wait to connect and create with the mamas!
Journey to Change: Vanuatu Storian on GBV, Spotlight Intiative
A preliminary meeting was held with our partner HCDI to start planning our activities for our project that focuses on storytelling. We will collect stories to show what has and what has not worked, and what can and what must happen to create change. Stories will be shared in the form of booklets, video enactments, radio shows. The stories will be presented in an illustrated booklet form. Some will be enacted in videos and on radio. All produced material will be in Bislama as the official language of Vanuatu, with the exception of the training and educational guides. The final will be an extensive collection of stories and educational aid, to be used in communities and in training health, education, and justice officials. The funds were only submitted at the end of April and we were expecting it in January. The time frame to implement is less than we expected but we have faith in completing it with success and joy.
Sista Fashion Show
Stay tuned…. we have an exciting partner we can’t wait to introduce!
‘Sista, Stanap Strong!’ Anthology
A ‘first of its kind’ anthology of new writing by three generations of women writers from Vanuatu offers us a remarkable insight into their lives, their joys, their hopes and their frustrations. Sista, Stanap Strong! includes poetry, fiction, essay, memoir, and song by ni-Vanuatu women – those who still live there – and others who are part of the diaspora. The book was planned to coincide with the 40th anniversary of Vanuatu’s independence last year, but Covid delayed its publication until now.
The book has been launched in Wellington and Palmerston North in New Zealand and Sista will be liasing with the editors of the anthology to launch the book here! Thank you to New Zealand government for your support in this community initiative.
Bigfala tank yu tumas to Sharon Alder for providing a second hand Ipad and to Vicki Seagoe for providing a brand new microwave to our office. Your kindness and consideration means so much to us, tank yu tumas bak agen.