Solomon Islands (SI) is one of the poorest countries in Oceania. With a population of 650,000 mostly Melanesian people, it has suffered colonialism, war, civil strife and poor governance, leaving its people in great poverty. The per capita GDP is less than $US600 per head and the majority of the population survives by subsistence agriculture.
The Conference of St Theresa in the village of Takwa on the island of Malaita is helping the poorest in its local community by delivering new and innovative services. Takwa is at the centre of an area with a wide range of economic activity and a great deal of need. There is a fast growing population, large scale unemployment and limited access to education. Gardening and fishing have been restricted to prevent over harvesting but the effect is that many people cannot meet their basic household needs. There is a range of religions including Seventh Day Adventist, Anglican and Bahai and the Conference serves people from all faiths.
The Conference is twinned with St Monica’s Conference in Evatt, Canberra, Australia.
Village of Takwa, Malaita, Solomon Islands
The effects of Covid and poor governance have made the SI economy unstable and this has increased poverty particularly in rural and remote areas such as Takwa. Responding to this the local Conference decided to build a local shop where essential food and other items could be made available to the local community at low cost. Using project funds from their twin and with the volunteer labour of their community the shop has been built and is now providing important goods for the community as well as being a base for provision of services. Items in the shop are goods that are not available within the village except at unaffordable prices and would otherwise come from the Provincial capital, Auki or the capital, Honiara. Auki is six hours drive away over poor roads.
30 % of the ‘profits’ from the shop is used to support villagers to produce additional vegetables and fish to support vulnerable members of the community.
The Conference is also using twin project funds to support education costs for villagers. Schooling is not free in SI and many families cannot afford to send their children to school. These funds are enabling access to education which is the best path for people to lift their living conditions. Seven kindergarten students, seventeen primary school students and twelve secondary school students have had all or part of their fees paid under education scholarships.
The foundation work of the Conference has been fortnightly group visitations to people in Takwa and surrounding villages to support locals in need. The Conference provides bags of food and fish to people in need – typically elderly people and people with disabilities.
Using funds they have raised themselves and local volunteer labour the Conference has built a St Vincent de Paul Rest House / Parish Meeting Room which is a place that the Conference and the Parish can use as a base for community support.