Palm Project was established in August 2007. Workshops commenced in South East Malakula June 2007. In a joint partnership between NZCHET (New Zealand Children’s Health & Education Trust), see website www.nzchildrenstrust.org.nz and the people of sopth east Malakula Islands Vanuatu.
Palm Project was the creation of Soap Making Workshops co-ordinate and facilitated by NZCHET to assist the people of the Maskelynes to eradicate the increasing cases of skin infections, scabies and louse.
NZCHET started their work in Vanuatu in 2000 with a medical the medical programme called MARC (Medical Assistance to Remote Communities) – www.project-marc.org. NZCHET commitment was to transport doctors, dentists, nurses and medical supplies to all remote aid post. Co-ordinate and facilitate medical clinics, women’s and men’s health meetings, scabies and louse clinics, dental clinics, eye screening, re-stocking aid posts with medicine and refurbishing aid posts where needed.
With a plea from the medical teams for an antiseptic soap, NZCHET arranged NZ Soap Maker Sandra Craig -with 11 years in the industry- to come to Uliveo island and hold workshop for the local people in the art of Soap Making. All equipment and supplies were at that stage donated by the Yousef & Josephine Fukhry Trust.
After such a successful season, NZCHET returned to New Zealand and left the people of south east Malakula to make soap.
There is one phone in the village, we would speak with the soap makers often, and it all seemed to be going well. The imported Tea Tree was doing a good job of eradicating the scabies, louse and skin infections.
The women now had not only soap but Sandra had shown them how to turn that soap into shampoo and cleaning products and for the first time the mother’s had soap for cleaning not only soap but soap with Tea Tree. They reported a definite improvement in the health of all who used the soap.
NZCHET thought that the season had been a huge success and that it was a finished project, but this was not to be the case because the knowledge of this wonderful soap had travelled everywhere.
Palm Project; a name given to the soap by the local community had become much sort after. Palm Project started to sell the soap to other villages and the mainland also.
It was discussed with NZCHET what was to be done. NZCHET told Palm Project it is your choice what you would like to have happen. It was decided that the price of the soap would be keep at a level that all could afford 30 vatu was the selling price approximately 43 NZ cents. NZCHET asked Palm Project to make sure that those who could not afford the soap would be given it free of charge. In return for supplying Palm Project with all equipment and ingredients, NZCHET would see to it that all people had access to soap for their health and the health of their families. After that, Palm Project could sell to whom ever they wanted. Palm Project reported that they had decided not to sell it to the local shops, as they knew the mark up price would be prohibitive for most of the locals so Palm Project sells directly to the people.
In 2016 Palm Project soap was being sold in 43 Trade Aid shops in New Zealand. It is also sold in the Vanuatu National Museum and several shops in Port Vila. All money raised from the sale of soap goes back into the community by way of coconut oil sales to the soap factory. The women of the island make virgin organic coconut oil by way of cold fermentation and their coconut oil is pure organic and superb.
For the overseas market the soap name has been changed to Coconut Project to avoid any confusion as to the possibility of there being palm oil in the soap. The company is still called Palm Project but the soap is named Coconut Project explaining the primary ingredient.