Just over 12 months ago, while on a trip to Vanuatu, I was taken aback by a shocking revelation. A young unmarried girl was jailed for infanticide.Vanuatu has a cultural problem.
Abortion is illegal except in some particular circumstances. There is no social security, and birth control is too expensive. And shame forces many to do the unthinkable- go to the bush, give birth- and abandon! In 2014, in a radio interview for Radio New Zealand, the president of the women’s council of Vanuatu stated bluntly, “The fact is the woman is alone with her own problems”. And then she went on to plant this seed in our minds, “If we had a place where we could receive a girl like that, and somebody would help them today. We should have some sort of service like that…” There is no facility at this moment to deal with this problem. Here’s what we’re doing about it.
Plans are being prepared right now for a building which will provide safe, secure and comfortable accommodation for up to to 10 girls.
The project has been called “El Haven” by Pr. Doroline Laloyer, the inspiration and passionate heart behind the project.
Its purpose is clear:
1. To save babies’ lives
2. To prevent the lifelong psychological trauma and bitter regret of the mother who has given birth and abandoned/killed her baby
3. To provide refuge and safety for both mother and baby until either or both are re-united with family, or a suitable loving home is found in Vanuatu for the child.
4. To establish an industry which will provide an income for the mother, and a chance to support herself financially for the longer term, and thus improve her self-worth.
This small project is probably not going to change my world, or your world, but it will change the world for a group of mothers who are locked in a culture of shame. And it will make the world of difference to those babies who are given a chance to live.
And given the unknown potential of any one of us, maybe, just maybe, this project will change the world via one who has been given that 2nd chance. And ultimately, of course, we may be able to change the culture of shame.
You can join us
El Haven is projected to cost c. $A 400,000. The land in Port Vila is now secured. The project will be owned and managed through a Trust. The building will be completed with volunteer teams from Australia and New Zealand. They eachpay their own airfares. And they pay for their own food while working!
All funds donated- 100%- will be used on this building
Saving someone’s life is exhilarating. But most of us don’t ever get that chance to do it.
Here’s a chance to save many lives each year in Vanuatu.
Some folks can’t give. Some don’t. Some just simply won’t.
So I want to personally and warmly thank you for giving; thank you for sharing in this huge but exciting task; thank you for changing the world.