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Together we are stronger

Jacquline stands in a garden in Vanuatu. Jacquline is a graduate of Youth Challenge Vanuatu's (YCV) Ready for Work program, which is run in partnership with Oxfam. She now works at the ombudsman office in Vanuatu.

For over 30 years, Oxfam, the community organisations we partner with and people like you have worked in Vanuatu to reduce inequality and increase opportunities for women, the LGBTQI+ community and people with disabilities. Here’s how we’re supporting people to come together, learn new skills and challenge harmful social norms.  

We believe that everyone deserves to live in an equal world. Yet too often, systems and social norms limit opportunities and fuel poverty. This can be especially the case for women, the LGBTQI+ community and people with disabilities, who often face additional discrimination and inequality.  

That’s why Oxfam’s Together we are stronger program in Vanuatu is supporting local organisations to create safe spaces for disadvantaged and marginalised groups to learn from one another and challenge harmful social norms. We spoke to Jacquline, George and Yannick, each connected to a different Oxfam partner, about how the program is helping them and their community. 

Overcoming women’s barriers to education and employment

Jacquline looks at her computer. Jacquline is a graduate of Youth Challenge Vanuatu's (YCV) Ready for Work program, and now works at the ombudsman office in Vanuatu. YCV work with the community help challenge inequality and provide opportunities. Photo: Arlene Bax/Oxfam

Youth Challenge Vanuatu (YCV) has been running since 2001 and helps youth to gain employment, work experience, volunteering and entrepreneurship opportunities and knowledge. Jacquline first heard about YCV from former classmates, who we were working in government offices and private firms.  

“One of the main challenges I faced before joining Youth Challenge is I really find it hard to find a job. When I was in school, my parents cannot afford to pay my fees in university, so I dropped out,” says Jacquline. 

Working at a supermarket at the time, Jacquline signed on to YCV’s Ready For Work initiative, where she received training that helped her land an administration officer role in the office of the Ombudsman. Her increased income helped Jacquline to re-enrol at university, where she’s studying Public Administration and Management. 

“Before I joined YCV – sometimes I wanted to give up. I thought that was it. But when I came to YCV, it encouraged me, it built me up, it gives me courage to move on and achieve my goals and dreams.” 

YCV, partnering with Oxfam, is equipping people like Jacquline with the skills, knowledge and training they need to increase their livelihoods, pursue secure work and help keep them out of poverty. 

Improving access and inclusion for people with disabilities

George stands with his arms crossed smiling at the camera. George joined the Vanuatu Society for People with Disabilities (VSPD) after an accident damaged his leg. He now advocates for the rights and inclusion of all people with disability.

Vanuatu Society for People with Disabilities (VSPD) supports those living with a disability in their communities by providing equipment, technical assistance, training and advocacy. After an accident left him with a disability, George discovered there were several obstacles facing his new community.  

“People with disabilities have often been overlooked by the community in the past … the challenges are, people with disabilities living in remote areas don’t have the opportunity to go to a hospital, or the children to go to school … to even access church, or participate in the community,” says George. 

Today, George works for VSPD — and is playing a vital role in providing care to his community, be it through advocacy, technical assistance, connecting them with cash support.  

“Some of the changes that I went through, or that I’ve seen bring some success or happiness to the homes of people with disabilities is when we come together to work with, or organise our communities … for example, every person with disability who cannot access hospital, we make sure that they get to a hospital. Sometimes when NGOs provide support for people with disabilities, we make sure the money goes to the right people.” 

By improving access to vital services and support, VSPD, together with Oxfam, are removing some of the barriers that drive inequality and push people with disabilities into poverty. 

Building LGBTQI+-friendly communities

Yannick stands in front of a wall of street art with the word love. Yannick is the program manager of Vanuatu Pride (VPride).

Vanuatu Pride (VPride) was founded in 2017 and aims to educate, advocate for and mobilise LGBTQIA+ people in Vanuatu.  

VPride also do a lot of work in partnership with another Oxfam partner, Wan Smol Bag, a community theatre which has now expanded to include community and youth centres, a nutrition house and a health clinic. Together, the organisations provide STI testing and awareness to empower their communities to take care of their health.  

Yannick has been with the organisation since 2020, and has seen a positive change both in his life and his community. 

“Before I joined VPride … I was afraid to show who I am, because a lot of people would talk about me or discriminate against me. But when I became involved with the VPride … it also helped to build up my confidence,” says Yannick. 

Through their annual VPride fashion show, the organisation also provides the LGBTQI+ community an opportunity to showcase skills like sewing that they have developed with support from Wan Smol Bag. 

“I have a close friend … VPride has conducted some activities here in Wan Smol Bag, that is helping them develop their skills for sewing which can then help to generate money and sustain their living,” says Yannick. 

VPride, with support from Oxfam, are helping to build a safer, more inclusive community, where LGBTQIA+ people have the confidence to follow their passions, grow their livelihoods and live free of poverty. 

With your support, the Together we are stronger program is supporting over 22,200 women, young people, people living with a disability and LGBTQIA+ people in Vanuatu. Want to learn more? Explore more of our work in Vanuatu

Oxfam acknowledges the support of the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).