The Solomon Islands Australian High Commissioner, His Excellency, Frank Ingruber, has opened an income generation project for Women and Disabled persons in the Wagina Community in Choiseul Province.

The project is the first income generation project for disadvantaged community members in this area of the country. The project involves both disabled and disadvantaged women from the one community working together to improve their living standards and ability to be self-supporting.

The project was funded under the Direct Aid Program (DAP), a small grants program designed to help community groups improve their living standards in direct and practical ways. The projects, spread across all provinces, include water tanks, school furniture, tsunami rehabilitation initiatives, and small income generating projects such as sewing machines, boat-building and copra driers.

The Wagina Disabled and Women's Income Generation project was the brain-child of Mr Biritati Vincent, a trained carpenter and builder who received his builder's certificate from the Vanga Rural Training Centre on Kolumbangara. He subsequently returned to his community and is using his skills to assist in meeting community needs, including the renovation last year of the Catholic Church in Nikumaroro village.

It was Mr Vincent's vision to create a project that would allow for capacity building of disadvantaged members of his community to learn carpentry and house building skills, so that they could earn income to support themselves, as they are unable to engage in traditional activities such as fishing or seaweed production.

Recently, Father Gabriel of Kukutin village assisted Mr Vincent to identify 10 women who are widows, orphans or have no source of income to join the project. There are now 17 members who are engaged in community construction and house repair.

The High Commissioner was joined by community elders, the Provincial member for Wagina, the Hon. Peter Tobire, and church leaders in opening the project. The Wagina community then held a celebration with gifts and traditional custom dancing to express their appreciation to the High Commissioner.

Press Release, Australian High Commission, Solomon Islands