Since launching in 2006, more than 350 young leaders from Pacific communities have trained at Certificate or Diploma level in the Ola Fou programme. Ola Fou sent me to Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to document the stories of recent graduates and current students.
I collected stories, quotes and images from 12 students and their communities across the two countries. It was a real privilege to join the Ola Fou country teams and head out to the different villages to meet the students. Each one had organised a community wide consultation to identify a problem the community was facing and then mobilised the youth in their community to address the issue. The projects ranged from peanut farms and water pumps to meeting houses and rubbish collection. In the Solomon Islands I visited two islands: the main island, with the capital Honiara, and Malaita, a few hours away by boat.
The final product was a booklet covering the 5 countries Ola Fou works in. The booklet is used to inspire other students and to update donors. Pages from the booklet can be viewed here.
Stories - Solomon Islands
Richard - Malaita, Solomon Islands
Richard is a student on the Ola Fou programme. Together with Ayexz and David, fellow youth leaders in the community, he is working to support young men with small scale businesses. They are also campaigning for clean water in their village. Currently the bore hole is located next to the generators providing electricity and there is strong evidence of contamination.
Derrick - Malaita, Solomon Islands
Derrick started the Ola Fou programme in 2012 and is now doing a two year internship with Ola Fou. He has spent four years working with the Namoabu community. As part of the Ola Fou programme, he asked the youth in the community what challenges they had in. One of the problems identified was the shortage of water in dry season. So Derrick worked with the youth to address the problem. They installed a pump and a water tank. Now in dry season, the village does not have water problems.
Raewyn and Kelly - Honiara, Solomon Islands
Raewyn and Kelly are both in the Ola Fou programme. They worked together to mobilise the young women and men in their community. The village had a big problem with rubbish in the past, with things being left all over the side of the road. They got together and came up with a plan to put out drums and encourage the community to keep the place tidy. They have also set up a little shop to help the youth in the community generate an income. They are motivated to keep going with different projects, even after they graduate from the Ola Fou programme. They said the next project will be street lights to keep people safe when they walk at night and they told me "Next time you come, you can come at night!"
Allan - Malaita, Solomon Islands
Allan capitalised on the carpentry skills of the youth in his community to organise the building of a meeting house next to the village church. He said the project has helped the elders see the potential of the youth in the village. He plans to keep doing community projects, the next one addressing sanitation issues in the neighbourhood.