Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sistas Savve on Radio Australia (in Pidgin)

Sistas Savve Project Coordinator, Doris Dakei, was recently interviewed by Radio Australia on Sistas Savve and the opportunities the project provides to young women in Solomon Islands.

Check out Doris' interview here

Monday, March 26, 2012

Mamana Water Community Graduates from Sistas Savve

On Friday, March 23rd, the first group of participants graduated from the Sistas Savve programme!

The Sistas Savve participants, staff, partners and advisory committee were very proud to welcome the Solomon Islands Minister of Health, Charles Sigoto, and New Zealand High Commissioner, Mark Ramsden, who presented the graduation certificates and spoke about the importance of women’s empowerment.

In his speech, Minister Sigoto congratulated the New Zealand Aid Programme and the implementers of Sistas Savve for the initiative, saying that it was “a key priority for the Ministry of Health and Medical Services to actively promote gender equality and women’s empowerment through our health programmes and initiatives.”

The ceremony was covered by media outlets such as SIBC, Solomon Star, Island Sun and One News.

Minister of Health Charles Sigoto and New Zealand High Commissioner 
Mark Ramsden hand over the graduation certificates.

 Sistas Savve Advisory Committee member Janet McBride donated 
a special cake from the Lime Lounge in Honiara

The Mamana Water Community women gave a traditional dance performance.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Sylvesta's Story: Learning How to Plan a Family

Sistas Savve participant Sylvesta Sade is one of the twenty women who for the past ten weeks have been trained in livelihood and life skills, including education on sexual and reproductive health and rights.

At 35, Sylvesta is the mother of five children. When asked what the most useful skill she has learned in the course of the programme, Sylvesta has no doubt: “I’ve learned how to space my pregnancies and how to avoid having more children,” she says, adding that, “I had never been to a health clinic before I attended Sistas Savve.”

Since starting the Sistas Savve training, Sylvesta has learned about the female anatomy and family planning methods, and has for the first time visited her local SIPPA clinic (Solomon Islands Planned Parenthood Association), where she received advice from trained health personnel. She is now planning for her future, “I want to set up my own business dying and selling lava lavas, and have my own stall at Central Market [the main market in Honiara]” Sylvesta says.  

Statistics show that Solomon Islands women want fewer children - the total fertility rate (TFR) is 4.6 children, compared to a wanted TFR of 3.3. children per woman, which is an estimate of what the total fertility rate would be if all unwanted births were avoided. In addition, only 27% of Solomon Islands women use modern contraceptives compared to 75% in New Zealand.

One of the key goals of Sistas Savve is to provide women such as Sylvesta with skills and knowledge that will improve their sexual and reproductive health, and, as a result, give the women more agency and control over their own lives.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Update from Doris

Hi, my name is Doris Dakei, and I am the Project Coordinator for Sistas Savve.  I’ll be updating you regularly on our activities here in Honiara.

On International Women’s Day, Sistas Savve participants Irene Martha and Maria Tuita gave public speeches about their experiences as part of Sistas Savve, the skills they had learned during the training and how their participation was benefitting their families and communities. As part of IWD, Sistas Savve participants also took part in several team activities, including Tug of War and Volleyball. The women were excited to come in first place, winning t-shirts sponsored by RAMSI!

We are now in the final week of training for Mamana Water Community, who will be graduating on Friday, March 23rd. The last week has been spent learning about saving schemes, to encourage the women to save the money they are making by selling their products  through small, but regular, deposits. In fact, after the training session, the Mamana Water women have now selected five women who will form the first savings club!

I look forward to keeping you up-to-date on Sistas Savve!


Monday, March 12, 2012

Sistas Savve marks International Women’s Day

Sistas Savve participants from Mamana Water Community and staff member Henrietta Mua (far right) march at International Women's Day in Honiara

Hundreds of women and girls gathered on March 8 at Rove Police Grounds in Honiara to celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD), organized by the Solomon Islands’ Ministry of Women, Youth and Children Affairs. The theme of the event was ‘Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures, Involving, Participating, Empowering’.

As a project empowering young women in Honiara, Sistas Savve had been invited to take part in the events by setting up a Sistas Savve stall to showcase our products and raise awareness, taking part in the IWD march, and giving two participants the opportunity to give an awareness raising speech about women’s empowerment and Sistas Savve.

It was a truly great day, and a great experiemce for the Sistas Savve participants and staff!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Update from Henrietta

My name is Henrietta Mua, and I am the Community Liaison Officer for Sistas Savve. I’m excited to share some of the latest developments of Sistas Savve here in Honiara.

As part of the ten-week programme, Sistas Savve participants learn to produce five products, including baskets, dyed lava lavas and doormats, most of which use recycled materials. The young women then choose one product to focus on and create a business plan for.

This week, the participants worked in groups to develop marketing and advertising strategies for their products. Several of the women, who come from Mamana Water Community, have had community members place orders for doormats and screen printed sarongs, which is great!

In between training, the Sistas Savve staff and participants are busy preparing for International Women’s Day on March 8th, where we will set up a stall at Rove Police Grounds in Honiara to exhibit our products and spread the message of Sistas Savve.

On a different note, Sistas Savve has been specially selected by the Honiara City Council and the Solomon Islands Environmental Health Department to exhibit their sustainable products made with recycled materials as a part of the National Waste Management Litter Campaign later this month – watch this space.

I look forward to keeping you updated on Sistas Savve going forward!  

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Portrait of a Sistas Savve Graduate

“Before I took part in Sistas Savve, I was afraid to speak up. But now I know that I’m free to talk to anybody.” Tina Ronson is 28 years old and the mother of two children – Wisdom and Zedey. She was a part of the Sistas Savve pilot programme, which ran in 2011 and worked with Kofiloko Community in Honiara, Solomon Islands. She gave birth to her youngest child, Zedey, during the 10-week programme, but returned to the training sessions only three days later. She even named Zedey after a Sistas Savve staff member.

Tina has no doubt that Sistas Savve has had a big impact on her life. Not just on herself, but on her children, parents, and community. Following the training, Tina has found the strength to leave an abusive relationship, and is now supporting her children and parents with the income she makes weaving baskets and making banana chips – two skills she learned during the course of the programme. “I sell the baskets for SI$40-50 (NZ$7), and bags of banana chips for $SI12 (NZ$2) around my community ”  Tina says. “If it weren’t for Sistas Savve, I would look only to my prayers for comfort.” 

Tina’s story  is a concrete example of how empowering a young women, while creating spillover effects for her family and community, has the ability to catalyze sustainable business opportunities in developing countries.