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Building stronger communities in the Solomons

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In the Solomon Islands, Tearfund's Christian partner Ola Fou is working with communities to help them adapt to change, and build resilience and hope.

Stinton Tua 3

‘I am able to use my skills for the community’

Stinton Tua knows how much difference the right training and encouragement can make in a young person’s life. When he was younger, he says he was shy and lacking in confidence. He rarely participated in community and church activities, and didn’t have the chance to complete primary school.

That boy is now a leader in his community. In 2020, Stinton enrolled in the Certificate in Youth Work course run by Tearfund’s Christian partner Ola Fou. Extra support from course facilitators helped him overcome his initial uncertainty about taking on the course, and he graduated in October 2021. Stinton is now the assistant pastor at his church, and supports its youth ministry program. He’s also part of a leadership circle that contributes to discussions and decision-making in his community, and he provides coaching and mentoring to other young leaders.

The skills I learned from agricultural training have helped me to become self-reliant ... I hope I can be a model for young boys and girls in the community, so they can embrace positive change too.

Stinton Tua
Stinton Tua 8

As Stinton explains, he’s benefited as an individual from his involvement in Ola Fou’s work, and his whole community has become stronger too.

“One of the things Ola Fou has done for us is improve sanitation and given us water tanks. Also garden tools for the community to use,” he says. “They are even using the tools to build houses, carrying sand and cement."

“Ola Fou taught me how to grow cabbage, pepper, spring onion, peanuts and ginger. I use this for family consumption and sell them at the market for an income. The skills I learned from agricultural training have helped me to become self-reliant.”

More than half of the young people Ola Fou surveyed as part of its project planning reported having issues with self-esteem, and lacking confidence around community participation. Ola Fou is engaging young people like Stinton to become agents of change in their own communities and organisations, equipping them to be future leaders.

“I thank Ola Fou for giving me this opportunity,” says Stinton. “I feel very privileged to be part of the Ola Fou course. I have come out of my comfort zone and am able to use my skills for the community. I hope I can be a model for young boys and girls in the community, so they can embrace positive change too.

Marama Joyce taken by Grace Ellis 2

'The training and skills helped a lot'

Marama Joyce runs a local women’s fellowship group in her village, teaching women skills like sewing clothes and weaving baskets using traditional materials.

“Ola Fou taught us first aid and how to be better prepared for a disaster like a cyclone. They helped us come up with a disaster preparedness plan," she explains.

“Ola Fou taught us how to use readily available resources in the community to create organic fertiliser, so instead of buying fertiliser from the shops, we use organic materials within our land area to put into our taro and cassava crops.

Marama Joyce by Grace Ellis 1b

"The training and skills helped a lot. I was able to see a big improvement after attending the training and putting into practice what I learnt … the size of our taros grew, they were healthier and grew well. With the improved product, I was able to sell crops at the market. The money I’ve earned is very helpful for the family, especially when my husband is away. It has helped me meet my children’s school fees.”

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Emma Halgren is Content Lead at Tearfund Australia. Photos: Helen Manson and Grace Ellis, Tearfund New Zealand