Sunday, September 13, 2015

Dresses for Dignity Success

Thanks to the many of you who donated to my Dresses for Dignity initiative, we managed to purchase 100 Mother Hubbard dresses for the women on Avokh and neighboring island, Awei! Thank you! Thank you! With the matching funds I promised, we purchased underwear (panties and bras) for them as well.

Working with the Vanuatu Women’s Council, local women made the dresses for us. We were happy to pay them to make them so they would have money for their families.

It was an exciting day when the ladies arrived with their bags of dresses. The local paper took photos and will do a story with us when we return from our assessment of the conditions on Avokh and Awei.

It was a happy day when the dresses were delivered. I was filled with joy that my vision actually became a reality. The ladies were thrilled to have cash in their hands! And the Vanuatu Women’s Council was pleased to have connected us. Their executive director, Liz, and several other officials from the Council and government joined in the photo session. After we deliver the dresses, we are to be interviewed by the local paper in Port Vila.
The next happy day will be when we deliver the dresses to the island women. If it is anything like we experienced in Tanna, all of the goods we have collected and purchased will be evenly distributed in some form among the villagers. Although the mounds of used clothing and goods is filling the boat, it will only be a small drop in the ocean of need in the outer islands. I hope we have enough so that everyone will have a thing or two. That may not seem like much to us, but a new-to-them shirt or a pair of shorts is a treasure to these people.

We have collected, sorted and moved bags of clothing from place to place on the boat for six months! It will be nice to have it offloaded and enjoyed by others. We must thank the Whangaporoa Rotary Club, Wentworth College and a number of friends we met in New Zealand for assisting in this project. I

t is our hope that yachties who make the trip up to these islands each year from New Zealand and Australia will continue to bring food and clothing for the outer islands. The people have no reasonable or affordable means of transportation to the larger ports and they have no money to buy things when they get there.

Are we ruining their culture by bringing them help? I can’t allow that thought when I see the hunger in their eyes even when they are willing to give you their food as a gesture of friendship and goodwill. They do not beg or barter, but there is great need for the basics about which we don’t usually think: water, meat, rice, flour, seeds, medicine, containers to hold clean water, containers to hold the rice, etc.

Unfortunately, we are contributing to the Cargo Cult mentality here. After all of the cargo dropped and left behind in the South Pacific during WWII, the natives believed that good things just fall from the heavens! They pray for it to fall - and they are very serious. So here we come answering their prayer and reinforcing their believe!
I will be happy to see this mess head to shore!
So after saying “goodbye” again to members of the WARC 2015 fleet and our New Zealand renegade pals from WARC 2014, we were left behind in Port Vila with Caduceus and Chex Nous to fill our boats and head north to lend a helping hand. Four days of shopping nearly did us in, but we managed to get the things for which we were hunting and gathering. People in the restaurant on the quay where we were berthed were amazed at how much stuff we kept bring back and loading onto S/V Trillium! Now we are ready to set sail to the Maskelyne Islands of Avokh and Awei. We just need a day of rest and then we will be off.

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