Palm Project and New Zealand Children’s Health & Education Trust Newsletter 2015
Since March 6th this year when Cyclone Pam devastated the islands much effort has gone into rebuilding people’s lives in Vanuatu. There was a huge response to NZCHET’s letter for help and we were able to send emergency food supplies to the island immediately and following that, equipment for repairs and seeds to replant the gardens that were completely destroyed.
Safe Drinking Water
Since 2011 and the installation of water tanks and the Uluveu Nuwai Pavilion, (see website) Uluveu have had safe clean drinking water unlike many of the other islands, who reported drinking salt water in desperation. Most importantly no lives were lost on the island and the 271 children in the care of Benson Tangou the headmaster were all safe. I spoke with Benson on the phone just as the cyclone was about to hit the island. I could hear the wind thrashing and the waves slapping at the shore. It frightened me and all I could say was, “don’t worry about the pavilion save the children”! Then nothing for a week while we waited anxiously for the phones to come back on and the text message “please call me”.
Uluveu have seen many cyclones but this was reported to be one of the worst. Although the Uluveu Nuwai Pavilion took a direct hit the building stood firm. I was able to report to the project building manager, Martin Peet and the building designer, James Brodie that all was fine. The Palm Project Soap Factory and the Uluveu Builders Workshop were also standing firm
Uluveu Medical clinic
In May when NZCHET was at Uluveu Sally Peet RN was there to see her long term patients. Kylie Cyrus was taken to Port Vila to have her prosthetic leg and hip x-rayed. Sally will take Kylie back to Australia this year for further surgery. Aids were also bought to Uluveu for another patient of Sally’s, Daisy who had a seizure when she was young and her muscles have contorted and she has limited mobility. Sally supports her family with medical equipment to make their job of caring for her easier. The Uluveu community was pleased to have their long time nurse back and Sally’s time there was filled with follow-ups and clinics. Sally has been working there since 2005. Sally has seen many improvements in the health and hygiene status of the island. As always she saw many patients while she was there and continues to follow up on these cases from Australia. Her dedication is overwhelming and she is loved and respect by the whole community.
Trade Aid orders soap for 32 shops throughout NZ
Once huts had been rebuilt, fallen trees chain sawed and gardens replanted, it was time for Jenny Balias and her team to get on with making soap for the Trade Aid order. Since November, Trade Aid NZ and their 32 shops New Zealand wide stock Palm Project soap. This product is now called Coconut Project and the new logo and boxes have been designed by Nat Allen and Sam Montgomery from Moreporks Clothing Company. Just before Christmas Trade Aid called me to say they would be needing another order. This is fantastic and the soap is selling very well. Of course Palm Project soap is completely chemical free and made with pure virgin organic coconut oil fresh from the local women.
Soap Factory pays local women 175,000 vatu
The soap factory committee has raised the price of coconut oil and now pay 250 Vatu per litre making this the highest price for any local commodity, with copra at 125 Vatu per kilo and tamanu oil seeds 50 Vatu per kilo.After Cyclone Pam, Palm Project soap factory bought 400 litres of coconut oil from the local community, this put 100,000 Vatu directly into the women’s hands to assist with the cyclone recovery.
Daily Post article
Thursday the 28th of May the new look soap was featured on the front page of the Vanuatu Daily Post with an inspiring article (see website). By far the most exciting news is that the women of the South Malakula Villages now make virgin organic coconut oil which means no heat is applied to produce the oil. This is the highest quality oil available and when bottled on the island it is as clear as water and when it comes to NZ and sets, it is pure white. This oil is made in the morning and bottled in the afternoon, sealing in all the goodness and it is food grade quality. It is a far better choice for the women as there is no cooking involved and no more endless hours standing over a fire damaging eyes and lungs and burning up precious wood.
Port Vila Trade Show features soap
Palm Project Soap Factory were invited by the Vanuatu Ministry of Trade to exhibit their products at the Trade and Export Expo which was held in Port Vila from the 27th of August 2015. The soap factory decided to show their three soaps, their virgin organic coconut oil, shampoo and conditioner. Once again Palm Project were able to buy over 300 litres of coconut oil from the local coconut oil makers bring a total of 75,000 Vatu into the community.
Soap Factory now owned by Uluveu Community
NZCHET is pleased to report that Palm Project Soap Factory is now completely owned and operated by Uluveu community but more importantly it is financially independent!
Sustainable Poverty Eradication
The Uluveu Nuwai Pavilion and the Uluveu Builders Workshop, both enterprises installed after the soap factory are working towards financial independence.
One of the first steps towards this for the pavilion is a new ice machine that will make twice the amount of ice in half the time and use less power. In a meeting with the Council of Chiefs, Palm Project governing board and the managers of the three enterprises, Benson Tangou, Jenny Balias and John Akurakura, it was unanimously decided that Benson and I would go to the National Bank of Vanuatu and seek a term loan to buy the new ice machine from Vanuatu. The Chiefs wanted the community to be responsible for the payments of the loan. Benson has now completed the business plan, profit and loss and predicted budgets, all the figures are with the bank officers and we are awaiting approval. In the meantime a new freezer has been purchased with the profits from the ice sales. Thompson Massing, a son of Uluveu and skipper of the Urata MV collects fish from the local fishermen and delivers it to Vila fish Market. He assists the local fishermen by freighting their catch to the Vila Market and has stated that, the salt ice that is produced from the solar power and water plant means, the fishermen are able to extend their catch time and raise their income.
New Rain Harvesting Pavilion for Mbonvor
The Uluveu Builders Workshop continue to supply the young RTC trained builders with work and the tools to complete their jobs. Community services are also carried out with the women’s groups, churches and kindergarten receiving assistance. (See website Report 2015)
On my return to Uluveu on the 12th of August 2015 there was much to achieve. NZCHET and Palm Project were asked by Aveda to design and install a small water project in the village of Mbonvor, South Malakula. Aveda directed a grant through Global Green Grants Fund with money donated from the sale of a special edition candle each April.
There is no road access to Mbonvor and the coastline is not friendly, with high winds and rough seas. I visited the island in June 2015 with the directors of Aveda and we discussed with the chiefs plans to assist the community of Mbonvor. Aveda use tamanu oil and nangai oil from this small village and after visiting there, realised that this village needed assistance. They had no soap or safe clean water and the standard of health was very poor with scabies, louse and skin infections. The women have to walk an hour to collect water from a natural aquifer high on the mountain side. Plans were made and NZCHET and Palm Project visited the village with the heads of the departments from Uluveu. Elder John Akurkur, manager of UBW, Kalo Daniel, chief building project manager, Jenny Balias manager of the soap factory, Annie Obediah and myself. It was decided by the community of Mbonvor and Palm Project that a building 15 x 5 meters would be built close to the village with a colour steel roof, cement floor and four mosquito proof tanks. This would supply the village with safe clean water which is easily accessible for all.
By the first week of December 2015, The Uluveu Builders Workshop and the local community had finished installing the building and associated plumbing and tankage. All cargo was delivered to the M.V. Urata and delivered to Mbonvor by Captain Thompson Massing. The extensive planning and logistics was undertaken by NZCHET. The installation of this project was completed by the Uluveu Builders Workshop, assisted by the builders from Mbonvor. While we were there in August water samples were gathered and tested by the local water company in Port Vila. At the same time we also delivered their first shipment of palm project soap, Annie and I sat with the women and discussed ways to improve the health and hygiene. Like Uluveu, the soap which will assist with the eradication of scabies, louse and skin infections as well as general hygiene, cleaning, washing and bathing.
The community of Uluveu wish to thank all those who assisted them after cyclone Pam. There was much damaged done to the island and very little food was available directly after the cyclone. The community also want to thank all those who have sent clothes, children’s books, toys and household equipment, these are all gratefully appreciated. NZCHET have informed the community of Uluveu that these things do not come from NZCHET but from friends and family in New Zealand. The love you have sent to the Uluveu community is being sent back with much thanks.
Usually NZCHET do not mention their committed supporters but this time we want to thank them by name:
Maryam and Gerald Perreira
Molly Loveday Education Trust
Green Global Fund
Carson & Allstar Plumbing
Thompson & Ruby Massing
Rachel & Luke Cossens
Child Care NZ
Richard Allen Law
Moreporks Clothing Company Limited
Cleaver & Co Accountants
Sarah J La Hood
Hind Marie Farry
Annabel and Moss Patterson
Eberhard & Monique Kleiser
John E Farry
S B W Grieve
B J Matheson
Thank you for your support through 2015 and we look forward to an equally successful 2016
Palm Project & NZCHET