WFWP Global Development and Aid Project:
Vanuatu, Solomon Islands
Island Lights is a not for profit development project of WFWP Australia. WFWP Australia carries out tangible and practical development and aid projects with approved partners within the Islands of Oceania.
The Island Lights project aims to provide sustainable and safe portable solar lighting for women and their families living in remote Pacific Island communities.
WFWP Australia supports UN Sustainable Development Goal 7: affordable and clean energy; Goal 10: reduced inequalities; Goal 11: sustainable cities and communities; Goal 12: responsible consumption and production.
Our mission is capacity building; to empower women with the means to enable their children to study after dark and give the opportunity for women to maintain home based businesses.
Solar Lighting project for the New Hope Academy in Solomon Islands
A moment of joy and hopeful smiles was seen in the eyes of all the staff and students of the New Hope Academy Kindergarten (NHA), when we brought into the school grounds the solar panels and electrical material for the Island Lights Project in the Solomon Islands (SI). WFWP Australia funded more than 63% of the solar project through their annual Support our Pacific Island Neighbours Walk-a-thon. The total cost of the project was over SBD $19,000.00.
The project was managed by WFWP SI. We contracted a wiring and installation person to install the equipment; which included six orbit fans, ten light bulbs, fittings and wiring, and three 100 watt solar panel sets. Within a week the teachers and students were enjoying classrooms with fans, lights and power points to connect laptops.
Staff and Students of the New Hope Academy kindergarten in Honiara, Solomon Islands.
Solar Lights delivered to Lamnatu and Imaelone Village
The journey began when Dianne Simboro visited the remote village of Lamnatu on Tanna Island and spoke to the women during a health and wellbeing workshop. The women expressed the need for lighting so their children can study at night and they can run home based businesses. The project belongs to the local women.
Dianne Simboro (front row), Lamnatu Village
Back in Australia we set up a team to raise funds to make the ‘Island Lights project’ a reality. Our first annual Charity Walk was held this year in Victoria and New South Wales. Through the Victorian fundraiser we were able to purchase high quality portable solar lights for Lamnatu Village and Imaelone Village on Tanna Island, Vanuatu.
Anne Bellavance (middle) with women and their children.
We are very happy to report that the portable solar lights donated via everyone’s sponsorship have arrived safely at their destination in July. The lights were sent to Vanuatu via Brisbane and received by Jong Deug Yoo, who oversees the WFWP Vanuatu Chapter. Rev. Yoo then travelled to Tanna Island to deliver the solar lights to the women of the villages.
Joyce Daniel (centre, in pink), Lamnatu Village
Lamnatu is home to 340 people within 40 households and 15 family groups. The women’s leader of the village is Joyce Daniel. Joyce expressed gratitude to WFWP Australia for the donation. Each mother received lights for their family use. The WFWP & FFWPU Vanuatu team were welcomed by members of Lamnatu Village with dances and song and then the Women Leaders of the village.
The WFWP Vanuatu team is welcomed by the women of the village
The Women of Lamnatu Village, Tanna Island, Vanuatu
Especially in village life, women of the Island are the back bone of the community and the family. The mothers and girls raise the children, cook, clean and tend the gardens to support their families. In village life, women do not have a significant voice; as men make most decisions and women are not given the opportunity for leadership. WFWP’s goal is to empower women with knowledge and skills within a supportive community to discover their unique value. This is exactly what the project is aimed to do for the women of Lamnatu Village. The men are supporting their women and giving them the opportunity.
A more modern style home
Men within the community supported the initiatives and listened in as the project was discussed and clarified. Anne explained the philosophy behind WFWP; that leadership is a partnership between men and women, together having equal value, position and opportunity.
A group of traditional buildings making up a family household.
Technology has already started to come to this remote village, but the solar panels are expensive and beyond the means of most families. Some people work in the main city of Tanna, (Lenakel) and come home for the week-end. They can afford more established homes; yet there is no electricity or running water and cooking is done outside in a separate kitchen building that surrounds an open wood fire on the ground.
Traditional family buildings
In traditional houses, the kitchen is an open fire on the dirt floor located in the centre of the kitchen building. Food is stored, prepared and cooked in the kitchen building. The building is very smoky. The raised building is a traditional sleeping room. A traditional household may have 3-4 buildings with a kitchen and separate sleeping buildings.
John’s house – leader of the New Village Movement in Lamnatu
Families use this water pool for bathing, gathering water for consumption and washing clothes. The women and girls walk over a kilometer through the bush to reach this spot, using plastic containers to gather the water. At the forefront of the photo, plastics and metal rubbish is visible; washed down as the villager’s access more processed food packaging. No garbage pickup in these remote areas.
In the forefront, garbage is already a problem. Here families bathe and wash their laundry.
Deeper in the bush is the original water source; this underground spring services 3 villages of the area.