The Meet & Greet
It started off as a casual ‘meet and greet’ at the Charles Bar at Westin Hotel in Brisbane, on 16 February. Although it was the biggest cohort of Pacific Island entrepreneurs, everyone connected and bonded almost automatically. It would be the first time as well for me to personally meet one of the powerful presenters; Kim- Graham Nye, Co-founder of gDiapers. At first, I was reluctant to apply for this program, as I initially thought that it was meant for business professionals only. Kim’s story about how she ran her business of eco- friendly diapers really motivated me to also pursue my interest in my childhood hobby of exploring the art of designs and textiles.
Finding my WHY
As a high school teacher by profession, I have come to believe that the greatest achievement in this field is seeing your students soar the heights in their academic journey. Another presenter, Wilmaraia Vocor, presented on the value of storytelling and finding your ‘WHY’. This is where I questioned myself of how I would give back my community and home country, Vanuatu. Finding employment in Port Vila is quite tough, especially for the most vulnerable; as women, school dropouts and the less fortunate with special needs. Inspired by my mother, Rebekah Galomule, from whom I’ve gained all these love for arts; I decided to organize a workshop to be held in Port Vila, whilst still in Brisbane for the dialogue.
The sole purpose is to help women and girls gain these life skills form of arts in textiles and designs; to will help them be financially stable. Women in the Pacific are strong and creative and with a little help within different sustainable fields and basics, they too can be their own boss and provide for their families. I sent a questionnaire to my close friends just to see if whether there will be people who would be interested, and within just a week of preparation. I was greatly astonished and surprised to receive the positive feedbacks from back home and that really encouraged me to just go for it.
On 21 February 2020, which was also my birthday, we had our first workshop in Port Vila. There were 15 participants, mostly stay home mothers, working mothers and even high school students. The group explored: Batik printing, tie- dyeing, block printing, coral dyeing, screen printing and crystal dyeing. However, over the weekend there were some who had missed out and requested to have the session again. So, on 23 February, we had our second batch of women who also underwent the same workshop. It was a huge success and I am forever grateful for the support that get from my family and friend and thank God for this achievement.
The Connection & Network
I also met an inspirational Fijian Paralympian participant, Mere Roden, at the Brisbane dialogue. Through the digital platform, we have maintained our connection and I was invited by her to facilitate the similar workshop for SIA – Fiji’s Spinal Injury Association. So, on March 12, we managed to host the workshop for about 15 of SIA’s members. I was encouraged with this Biblical thought: Ecclesiastes 9: 10- ‘Whatever your hand finds to DO, DO it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is no working, nor planning, nor knowledge, nor wisdom’. Most of the participants commuted to Suva with the help of their relatives and helpers, but that did not stop them from using their limited abilities to execute the practical tasks done that day. Just the smiles on their faces was a true achievement for me.
This life skills training or workshop’s ultimate goal is to help participants be self-sustainable in this economy. Participants who undergo this workshop were able to explore different techniques and be able to apply the skills as preferred. Most importantly, the attainment of business and entrepreneurial skills for self-employment.
Through ICDP, I personally have learnt to go the extra mile and take the risk and I could not thank you enough; ICDP, the organisers, presenters and my fellow colleagues for the wonderful journey that we started together. I am very excited and this past dialogue in Brisbane had really boosted my self- confidence into venturing further into this childhood hobby. The dialogue made me realise that nothing is wrong with taking the risk and see something flourish out of it than nothing at all.