September was another very busy month for Sista, most likely the busiest of them all!
Our highlight was definitely the ‘Yumi Gat Style’ – Vanuatu, Fashion Show. After months of planning, preparation and organizing, we pulled off what many said was a spectacular show! A longtime dream of our Executive Director Yasmine Bjornum, that wouldn’t have been made possible without the support of Ambassade de France who were very happy to fund our concept after experiencing setbacks from other donors in the past. However, this was our time to show just how powerful fashion can be when used in a creative manner that brings people together!
While some of us were organizing, planning and prepping for the fashion show, others were hard at work on other projects like the ‘Journey to Change’ – Vanuatu Storian on Gender Based Violence’. Our two Spotlight Project Officers managed to conduct over 23 interviews in less than a month that will be used towards a mini documentary and our 16 Days Of Activism campaign that will be coming out soon in November. We are so proud of Delta & Rosina’s wonderful leadership on this project, we are seeing their capacity grow by the minute!
Last but not least, Sista moved into a brand new office this month! Not to worry the move was just down the hall, however it has given us a lot more space for us to be able to do our work and we have decorated it accordingly to our colour…purple!
As the end of the year draws near, we continue to abide by our slogan: Informing, Empowering and Advocating for the women & girls of Vanuatu!
Planning and Preparation
Yumi Gat Style rehearsals
In the lead up to the ‘Yumi Gat Style’ – Vanuatu Fashion show, two Saturday afternoons on September 11th and 18th were dedicated to catwalk rehearsals. This was crucial to the success of the show as presence and how you hold yourself is essential in modeling clothes, no matter the brand and no matter where you are in the world, confidence is key!
The models showed great progress and confidence in contrast to the very first rehearsal we held back in August with Zoe Macfarlane. They were more sure of themselves and exerted a more dignified stance and demeanor throughout both rehearsals. We were lucky to have Matthew Abbock, a designer of the YGS fashion show, come in and share his experience as a designer AND as a model back in his textile college days in Australia, especially helping Sista’s Projects Team Leader show the male models how to walk the runway.
Fashion design expert Jojo Vanuatu come to our second rehearsal who shared with the models what’s to be expected of them on the actual night after many years of attending fashion shows backstage at Paris, London, Milan & Fiji Fashion Weeks. Thank you Jojo for your ongoing support!
As the show was drawing closer, on Wednesday 22nd September is the day we held our final dress rehearsal. The models strutted down the runway for the last time before the event, wearing some of the designers finalized pieces (as yes some hadn’t finished their designs yet…) all whilst testing the live streaming (that means looking into the correct camera at the correct time), our DJ Kevin Garlopeau playing the selected beats, testing the runway mat itself, and having our singer Sharron Nicholls properly open and close the show as if she would on the day.
The last tip we could give them before the night is to just be themselves, whoever/whatever that may be, and to not forget to have a good time!
We would like to thank them for their bravery and courage to own their space. Because without them the show wouldn’t have been what it was…scroll down to find it went on the night!
‘Yumi Gat Style’ 2021 – Vanuatu, Fashion show night
The ‘Yumi Gat Style’ – Fashion show was definitely the project of the month as it was the biggest and most anticipated we had this year, and the feedback we got from our guests was that it was quite a spectacular show!
The event itself was a collaboration between Sista & Vanuatu Skills Partnership (VSP) that brought together 10 local designers which included: one designer from Tanna Island, one textile group from Santo (SCICC), and eight designers from Port-Vila. As well as VSP’s selected handicraft clients of Malampa, Sanma, Tafea & Torba who showcased their innovative handicrafts ranging from bags, hats, fans to jewelry worn by the models as accessories to the designer’s unique outfits, all answering to the theme “How to express Vanuatu Culture through fashion & craft?” which all stunned the crowd. VSP also provided us with a 16-meter-long runway entirely made from pandanus leaves!
This fashion show was different from any other that has ever taken place in Vanuatu. As firm believers in using fashion as an innovative entry point to promote body positivity, empower women & men to feel good about their bodies and feel confident to express themselves in whichever way they please, our model list consisted of all body shapes and sizes, being inclusive with diverse skin tones as well as hair textures – we celebrated and embraced a diverse group of different ethnicities ESPECIALLY Melanesian features!
We got to see on the night just how much this project impacted these individuals. It was almost as if their true selves surfaced, the personality that they have been hiding came out into the light and they shone bright like the stars that they always have been.
Our show also featured 22-year-old young talented Sharon Nicholls who opened the event beautifully to empowering song ‘This is me’ – The Greatest Showman & closed it with ‘God made you beautiful’ – Beyoncé. Our amazing MC Moses Cakau opened the runway and did an exemplary job introducing each designer’s line and story to give a deeper insight into the designers’ aesthetic & branding. And not to forget a special shout out to our fabulous beauticians Jhonel Martin from Hair and Body Shop and Margaux Boyd from L’institut Sable Blanc who glammed up our models for the runway!
All in all, the feedback from our guests and the show itself was more than we could have ever hoped for and Sista is very thankful to Ambassade De France for believing in our vision and funding it. The pieces were all simply breathtaking and we believe this project was definitely a game changer in our local fashion industry.
We are so proud of our team for pulling this off!
Tank yu tumas evriwan long sapot blo yu!
‘Journey to Change – Vanuatu Storian on Gender Based Violence’
Our Spotlight Project Officers have been hard at work continuing their interviews and transcribing for the ‘Journey to Change – Vanuatu Storian on GBV’ project which focuses on storytelling or Storian or Talanoa, which is an embedded part of Pacific culture and Indigenous cultures, and is generally used as an alternative & effective tool for raising GBV awareness and promoting change. This project focuses on the “Journey to change” to show the path to change and its challenges, based on the stories of those on the path: survivors, health and justice officers, community helpers, organizations and reformed offenders.
During the interviews, the interviewees were asked about their own experiences with GBV (Gender Based Violence), as an organization/survivor/ community helper/reformed offender and their ideas about finding a way out of violence – ‘What has worked? What has not worked? What would have helped?’. Their responses were recorded for research purposes for our team to find out what are the core causes & consequences of GBV however the identities of the stakeholders will be kept confidential. The girls have conducted over 23 interviews over the past month, WELL DONE!
The objective of this project, funded by Spotlight, is to show what has and what has not worked in relation to ending GBV (Gender Based Violence), and what can and what must happen to provoke a positive change and how can we really work together to achieve this ultimate goal of eliminating GBV in Vanuatu.
We Rise Coalition Monthly Communications Meeting via Zoom
On September 16th Sista’s Finance & Program Manager along with the Communications, Advocacy & Events Officer attended a zoom meeting with the We Rise Coalition, chaired by Vanessa Heleta from the Talitha Project in Tonga, that Sista is a part of.
One of the main discussions were about DIEM (Diversity Inclusion Engagement Movement); a game changer strategy that invites the Coalition to think more deeply about the Oceanic Pacific Feminist Movement, and how the we can maintain the space for Oceanic Pacific women and people with diverse SOGIESC.
There is a unique Global-South-Global North partnership dynamic within the coalition that has been nurtured in order to get to the stage of developing this We Rise Coalition DIEM Strategy. This careful navigation was critical for the coalition because whilst IWDA is a Global North organization, it was important for the members of the coalition to create and develop a sense of collective learning and care.
We are so grateful to be a part of this coalition of great women and look forward to continuing learning and growing with them!
Finance Induction Workshop
On September 9th Sista had finance consultant, Steve Bough, come into our office to facilitate a finance induction workshop. It is important that our project officers have a deeper understanding of finance for them to learn just how crucial it is when running an NGO and for the them to support the finance department to their best when working on projects and keeping track of everything accordingly.
Here’s a brief overview of the topics studied in the workshop:
- Why finance?
- Policies and Procedures
- Internal Controls
- What we can do to play our part
- Fraud Awareness and Prevention
The highlight of this workshop was the budget training exercise. The team learned how to create a budget for a specific project using Excel. Taking into consideration the number of participants, the number of days, the cost of the activities, accommodation, transport, communications, catering and many more elements needed when planning a project or program. Having the numbers is easy, but putting it all down into a costed budget is another.
We believe this workshop gave a great insight into the reality of what is needed, finance wise, when running programs and projects. That facilitating the actual project is the fun part, but being financially accountable is a crucial part to be able to continue doing the work that we do.
September Financial Report
We are almost there in getting all our systems in place!
The month of September was all about finance reporting for our Finance Department to our main donors CARE, We Rise, Spotlight, PPAC and Ambassade De France au Vanuatu after our successful ‘Yumi Gat Style – Vanuatu Fashion Show.
Sista’s new office move
In the madness of conducting interviews, holding catwalk rehearsals and getting our finance systems up and running, Sista found the time to move into a brand new office space in the very beginning of September!
Since the beginning of the year, Sista had been sharing an office space with IsraAID, whom without their support, Sista would have never been able to provide a proper office space for her team as before this, the magic of Sista was happening in our very own Executive Directors’ home!
Sista is growing by the minute, we started off with one employee (Eliza Mondou) who was Sista’s very first employee in 2019 and since then we have become a team of seven women plus our HR volunteer Megan. Therefore, the new office move was essential in maintaining the quality of work that we do as our shared office with IsraAID was becoming very crowded when we were a full house!
We would like to give a BIGFALA thank you to Kristina & Jeanine for working by our side us during these crazy months and we wish you all the best in your upcoming projects! Thank you for our gift and lukim yu down the corridor!
This office move would have would have never been made possible without our donor & partnership with WeRise. THANK YOU!
‘Exquisite Memories’ Event Proceeds Donated to Sista
On the 15th of September, Kat from ‘Not Just Yoga With Kat’, Alexandra from Vanuatu Craft Association and Anne from South Pacific Memories, visited our office to hand-deliver the proceeds from their event ‘Exquisite Memories’ held on September 3rd. The event was held to showcase and bring together local producer Vanuatu Craft Association and ‘Not Just Yoga With Kat’ and was held at the South Pacific Memories resort.
At Sista it is essential for us to have a space where we are able to focus on letting our creativity come to life, this is why the donation has gone towards our new office move where the girls got to be the first to try out our newly painted office wall – the perfect back drop for photos!
We would like to give a big thank you to Kat Finnerty, Anne Nesheim, Alexandra Massague Williams and Olivier Gaston from Gaston Chocolat for your donation which will support what we do which is to inform, empower and advocate on issues that affect women & girls in Vanuatu.
Self-care – SistaHood Retreat with Ananda Yoga & Healing Center
To be able to do the work that we do at Sista, it is essential for us to make the TIME to take care of ourselves. On Saturday 5th of September, the Sista team attended a healing retreat with Tu & Laurent from Ananda Yoga & Healing Center.
The morning started off with a relaxing mind & body connection yoga session for all levels led by Laurent, followed by a Ayurvedic balanced GF vegetarian brunch to replenish ourselves with healthy plant based food and ended with a self-healing workshop facilitated by Tu. This is where we got to understand how to break mind patterns, how our human life energy force works and how to manage our energy. We were introduced to tapping and affirmations to heal our inner child and traumatic stagnation.
I think it’s safe to say that many of us leant a lot on how to take care of our bodies and especially our minds as we take mental health very seriously at Sista. With the work that we do, we know that self-care enables us to give the world the BEST of us, instead of what’s LEFT of us.
Thank you Tu and Laurent from Ananda Yoga and Healing Center for creating a space for us to connect to our minds, hearts and bodies.
“You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day – unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.” – Old Zen saying