“One, two and three say Statim Faia!”
Sixteen young leaders representing youth groups across Honiara cheered before the camera as the Statim Faia project successfully rolled out its second phase of providing grants for youth initiatives. Waving their signed agreement papers in the air, the photo captured it all. Smiles of relief, satisfaction, and the energy of determination.
Earlier that afternoon representatives from 16 youth groups signed the grant agreements with Oxfam in Solomon Islands (OISI) Country Director Dolores Devesi, Honiara City Council (HCC) Head of Youth Sports and Women Division Roland GK Pauku and President of the Honiara Youth Council (HYC) Harry James.
The grant program is funded by Comic Relief fund and Royal Commonwealth Society, under the Queen‘s Young Leaders Programme in honor of Her Majesty The Queen’s 60 years of service to the Commonwealth.
A total sum of SBD$349,397 was signed by the participating youth groups to carry out their proposed projects over the next six months.
These vary from business models to plastic recycling ideas, landscaping and agriculture, empowerment programs and many more creative initiatives.
“Personally I am always excited to support youth groups. We see you as leaders – not for the future – but as leaders of today,” Ms Devesi told the youth representatives at the signing event.
“Our generation today looks upon young people and leaders like yourselves to bring up our society. We’ve seen for ourselves the many issues that our country is facing, particularly issues affecting our young population.”
She said the Statim Faia project is purposely aimed to give youth groups the chance to put their ideas into practise, however with the challenge for young people to learn about sustainability.
“It may not be able to cover all the costs that were proposed but it gives you the capability to start something which can continue to be sustainable even when your grants run out.”
The Country Director congratulated the participants in reaching the funding stage of the project and wished them well in their implementations.
Roland GK Pauku, head of HCC’s Youth Sports and Women Division says HCC is thankful for the existing partnership with Oxfam and will commit to continuously work closely together.
“For us at the Honiara City Council, we are really thankful for what Oxfam is doing,” he says. “As much as possible we will commit to work more closely with the teams involved [Honiara Youth Council and Oxfam’s Youth Governance project] so that we will continue to implement this project.
“I’ve seen the values and commitment of the Oxfam team in implementing this program and I highly applaud them. We must accomplish things,” Pauku urged.
HYC president Harry James in a brief comment encouraged the youths to make use of the opportunity and deliver with uttermost dedication to support youths in the country.
The Statim Faia project was launched in 2015 with the aim to support young women and young men in the Solomon Islands to participate and have their voices heard on issues they care about.
OISI’s Youth and Governance Coordinator Neil Nuia, who takes lead in the Statim Faia project, says the project attracted more participating youth groups than the first year.
“Compared to seven successful grants in 2017, this year we were very delighted to have 16 youth groups in Honiara who successfully completed the Statim Faia small grants process,” he says.
“I must congratulate these young active citizens for bringing their creative yet powerful ideas forward and putting into proposal their proactive ways of raising youth voice. Now it is time to make positive change and have their impact trickle down to other youths in other provinces.”
We take a look at three of the successful recipients:
Learning sign language in DVD
Ali Barnabas is president of the Solomon Islands Deaf Association (SIDA), an association formed in 2014 to engage and support people with hearing disability.
Though speech impaired, Ali has championed being a vocal voice behind SIDA in raising the concerns of the disabled population – loud enough to get the attention of Prime Minister Rick Hou who agreed to meet with SIDA earlier in January.
Ali signed the Statim Faia grant agreement on behalf of SIDA with an aim to increase the knowledge of sign language through video productions.
Speaking through an interpreter Ali said: “In our project, we propose to promote sign language through DVDs that can help others to learn with an easier medium. We hope our proposed videos will reach as many people as possible. We also plan to channel our productions to schools and disability centres whom are already aware of our project and are eager to see the output.”
SIDA had undertaken similar projects in the past, but by print materials and books. Ali said SIDA is in need for more interpreters and he hopes that by using DVDs more people can be reached.
Girls For Change
Being the only all-female group among the recipients, the Girls For Change are striving to do what they do best – to support each other. Girls For Change president Karrie Jionisi sees the signing agreement as a milestone achievement for her group.
Girls For Change is a community of interest group or a network of young women that works to improve the lives of single mothers in Honiara. They operate more on ad hoc basis with a fixed meeting location.
Karrie says their project will focus on capacity building trainings for out of school and single mothers to have the right skills and learn to have the self-confidence to participate in socio-economic activities.
“This signing today was a very big achievement for us as a girls group. We see this as a milestone that will help us step forward and use this opportunity to help other girls in our community. While we will make at least small changes with this grant, we hope to make a bigger impact to the lives of our girls.”
Keep Clean Commission
Evolved out from a thriving local boy band, N2Y Active Citizens is a community-based youth group at Naha 2 representing the young population of over 40 homes. N2Y aims to redevelop their community’s landscape with the combination of road work, gardening and recycling means.
“On behalf of the Naha 2 Youth group, I’d like to thank Oxfam and its partners for giving us this opportunity to improve our community through our Keep Clean Commission Project that aims to give a landscape development to our community as well as establish a workforce opportunity for our unemployed youths,” says Sam Ziokera, vice president of N2Y.
“Our youth group joined the Statim Faia program earlier this year and we went through many workshops and trainings to prepare us to effectively execute our project. I am confident that we will achieve what we planned.”