Assistance for Mangililu Women’s Market
Kiwanis Club of Port Vila has pledged 100,000vt towards this project to assist the women at Mangililu. We are very pleased that the funds have been raised to enable the project of the new market at the Mangililu turnoff to be constructed.
Here is the report from Jeff Byrne from the Westpac:
The Women of Mangaliliu Appeal was officially opened early on Saturday morning, the 8th of March….International Women’s Day. The “wheel barrow” walk would symbolise the struggle of the women of a village who suffer daily as they push wheel barrows long distances to take their produce to market. It would also honour the two women who were severely injured in a traffic accident whilst working at that market in 2013.
Despite heavy rain at sunrise more than 150 men, women and children of all ages turned up for the start of the walk, including 30 members of the Westpac Vanuatu team. We were fortunate to have both the Chief of Mangaliliu Village and the Prime Minister of Vanuatu present to provide their blessing. The Prime Minister, proudly sporting the Westpac brand, confirmed in his address the importance of gender equality in all aspects of Vanuatu life, offering a generous donation to the cause.
Prior to the commencement of the walk, the wheel barrow needed to be filled with fresh fruit and vegetables from the Vila Central Market. I walked no further than the first of scores of display benches before women from every corner of the market came forward to place donations in the wheel barrow….and of course the fresh produce….and lots of it. Coconuts, avocados, bananas, bush cabbage and pawpaws larger than footballs. The first tears were shed as it became clear that this was important not just to the Women of Mangaliliu but to all women in Vanuatu who derive their livelihood from the markets. I pushed the heavy load out onto the main road to join the walkers, the PM, the Chief and the Vanuatu military band who for the first two kilometres lead our group through the centre of town, their music drawing attention to the sea of people and “International Women’s Day…Inspiring Change” banners.
The generosity of the ni-Vanuatu people was overwhelming as we walked through the first 10 kilometres of town. Buses would slow to a walking pace and coins would come flying from the windows towards the wheel barrow. Children would run out from some of Efate’s poorest villages to offer what little they could and of course the mamas at each of the markets we passed would come forward to show their support for their sisters on the other side of the island. Church groups offered their takings from Saturday service. The human spirit in its purest form…the “wheel barrow” raised a massive Vt100,000 on the day from the generosity of people with so little to offer.
After the 10 kilometre walk out of town, we hit the hills. The down hill sections were easier than anticipated. Uphill was a different story. The steepest inclines were more than a kilometre in length and required bursts of energy over 200 metre sections with a long break to recover each time. Surrounded by friends, clients and inspiring staff (graduate recruit, Andrew playing the role of personal trainer and lead motivator), nothing was going to get in the way of achieving our goal for the Women of Mangaliliu.
The Police escort called the leaders of the group to a halt just 300 metres before the final descent. We were spread over several kilometres of the road with 5 cars providing hydration and a lift to those in need of a break. All 150 who started, joined together to finish together. Most had completed every step of the 19 kilometre walk. Shoulder to shoulder with the Chief, we lead the team down the hill to one of the most emotional receptions I have ever witnessed. Another 200 people had been waiting for the group to arrive. Beginning with a traditional tribal welcoming dance we walked through a guard of honour formed by the children of the village throwing flower petals like confetti at a wedding. The emotion overflowed. The mamas started crying, exhausted walkers started crying. It had been a five hour walk in pouring rain and then blistering heat. The mamas who had previously been forgotten and left behind now had the support they so desperately needed.
My thanks go to all who supported this great cause. Westpac staff, both in Australia and the Pacific, our friends and family and our loyal clients all came forward in this time of need. We achieved both of our goals. We have provided the means for the economic empowerment of the women of Mangaliliu and in the process, taken a very public stand against gender based violence and gender inequality in the Pacific. There is no doubt in my mind that we have truly Inspired Change…