In April we are celebrating Vanuatu’s youngest female Municipal Councilor, Ms Melanie Shem!

Hailing from the island of Aniwa, Melanie’s humble yet confident personality and vibrant smile is a testament to the amazing work she does today. Melanie ensures she has a healthy life balance by spending quality time with family, playing in the North Efate Bush Pigs cricket club all while juggling her responsibilities as a teacher’s assistant at PVIS and as a Port Vila Municipal Councilor.

She hopes to inspire other young people to step out of their comfort zones as there are vast opportunities out there for them. She currently lives by this quote, “Embrace your weakness and look to make it your strength.”, as a reminder that when you find your weakness, take it, and turn it around to make it your strength and move forward.

#SistaGatStyle #WomanAniwa #Vibrant #Humble #Inspiring #WomanLeader #Beautiful

Name

Melanie Aniel – Shem

Age

24 years old

Where are you from? Tell us about your family

I am from Aniwa Island, my father is from Aniwa and my mother is from North Efate. I have two brothers and one sister and I am the youngest in the family.

What do you like to do in your spare time?  Any hobbies?

Maintaining a healthy social relationship with my family, peers and my community is very important to me. So, I like hanging out with my friends and spending quality time with my family. I also play cricket for the cricket club team called, North Efate Bush Pigs. The cricket season has started for the Men’s club and the Women’s cricket club will commence in May which I am eagerly looking forward to. I love playing cricket because it’s not only a fun hobby but like any other sport, it’s a great way to stay active!

 

What do you study? Do you work?

I am a municipal councillor in the Port Vila Municipality. I have been a councillor for eight months and it has been an enriching experience, I have enjoyed working with and learning from my peers. I am also in my fifth year of working at Port Vila International School (PVIS) as a teaching assistant – shout out to PVIS as they have been very supportive of me and my role as a municipal councillor.

 

What do you aspire to do in the future?

I am the youngest female municipal councilor and that in itself is a huge milestone for my family and a historic achievement for Vanuatu. With that, I hope I have and will continue to inspire youths to step out of their comfort zones to gain new opportunities and understand that their voice is valued and can be heard.

What is a quote that you live by?

I have a handful of quotes I live by, but an important one that I refer to, especially given my new role in the Municipal, is “Embrace your weakness and look to make it your strength.”

This quote is from a conversation I had with a very close relative where we were talking about some of the challenges we have been facing and some ways we can work on to encounter these challenges. He ended the conversation with this quote and reminded me that when you find your weakness or when people talk about your weaknesses, take it, and turn it around to make it your strength and move forward.

How would you describe your style?

For work, I need to wear what looks good and presentable as it forms a positive impression to the people I work with and the people I meet. I usually dress differently for different occasions, but I guess I would describe my style as smart-casual.

Why do you like fashion?

Fashion is loved all over the world! It allows people to express, create and stand out in the crowd. People can express themselves through fashion and that is what I like about it. You can be creative as much as you want, and you can be yourself with what you choose to wear.

Who influences your style?

I admire people taking ownership of their style. I like to feel comfortable with what I wear because it makes me happy and confident. I take inspiration from the new trends and styles I see on the streets of Port Vila or on social media, but I then make it my own and style it in a way that makes me feel comfortable and fabulous!

What beauty products do you use (including perfume)?

I use coconut oil or Virgin coconut body butter for my skin, ‘Sweet Love’ perfume from Health Wise pharmacy or ‘Fantasy’ perfume by Britney Spears from Paris Shopping. And I use Cantu products and Aelan Curls for my hair!

Any fashion tips?

Wear colours that make you feel happy and confident. Remember, you have your own style, and your style makes you who you are!

What does being a woman mean to you?

Being a woman means everything! It means having a sense of identity and being grateful for what we have. Being a woman means accepting that our bodies change and adapt over time. Being a woman means we can be powerful and confident yet kind. It means I get to celebrate my worth and my value and know that I am these things and more.

What is one thing you wish you could tell your younger self?

If I were to meet my younger self, I would tell her not to be afraid to put herself out there and grab as many opportunities as she can.

Is there anything you would like to share about the current situation in Vanuatu?

We have just experienced twin cyclones, TC Judy and Kevin, that have devasted lives of many people throughout Vanuatu. People are still recovering from the damage caused by the twin cyclones, but the support people have been showing during the response is tremendous! Families who have lost their homes were accepted by other families to stay with them, people have gone out of their way to help their neighbors in any way possible, especially with food, water, clothes, and materials for building. Some employers have even distributed food, water, and essential needs to their employees. The Vanuatu Government has considerably helped the citizens of Vanuatu by distributing essential needs with great support from NGO’s and countries overseas.

With all this support, we are slowly rebuilding our homes, our lives, and our country. Vanuatu is truly resilient!

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Photographer: Nya Films

Assistants: Sharon Nicholls & Elsie Molou

Nails and Make – Up: Mesika’s Beauty

Location: Independence Park

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This article was originally published in the April,2023 edition of the Vanuatu Daily Post’s Life and Style magazine.

We are proud partners with VDP and Sista’s time to implement this project which is covered by CARE Vanuatu.