Out of the lingering economic and health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in the face of the growing impact of climate change, Caritas partners across the Pacific and Asia regions are working to provide food and water security, build healthy lifestyles, and strengthen agriculture and income-earning opportunities.
This is being done through He Oranga Taurikura – A Thriving Life, a five-year integrated development programme between Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand and the New Zealand Aid Programme.
The Caritas programme is supported by New Zealand donors and the New Zealand Aid Programme of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. For every dollar Caritas supporters provide to the programme, the New Zealand government will match it with three dollars.
Working through nine established community organisations, the programme aims to reach over 90,000 people in Cambodia, Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste and Tonga.
Caritas has just released its first report on the programme, covering July 2021 to December 2022. It shows Caritas’ grassroots partners have been highly adaptable through the impact and disruptions of the COVID pandemic and other crises and disasters. The report is available online through the Caritas website: www.caritas.org.nz
An important part of the programme is recognising and supporting local and indigenous ways of being and measuring its impact. Underlying the approach of the programme is the whakataukī:
Na tō rourou, Na tāku rourou, ka ora ai te iwi.
With my fruit basket and your fruit basket, our people shall thrive.
This proverb encapsulates many things. Among them is the recognition that for a community, an environment or an individual to thrive, an integrated and collective effort is needed.
Case study examples of the impact and aspirations of the programme are shared on these two pages.
Supporting Thriving Lives – He Oranga Taurikura – First year report on the programme
Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand has released its first report on its ambitious programme to build thriving lives across seven countries in the Pacific and Southeast Asia.
He Oranga Taurikura – A Thriving Life is a five-year integrated development programme working through established community organisations to provide food and water security, build healthy lifestyles, and strengthen agriculture and income-earning opportunities to be more resilient in the face of climate change and other challenges. The Caritas programme is supported by New Zealand donors and the New Zealand Aid Programme of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The report, covering July 2021 to December 2022, shows Caritas’ grassroots partners have been highly adaptable through the impact and disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic and other crises and disasters. The Social Empowerment and Education Programme (SEEP) in Fiji completed its part of He Oranga Taurikura – promoting healthy, organic food preparation – in the first six months of the programme. Another Fiji partner, the Tutu Rural Training Centre supplied its region with 50,000 extra seedlings and cuttings above its normal output in June 2022, while HAFOTI in Timor Leste secured a government contract to supply more than 14,000 jars of virgin coconut oil to supermarkets.
Overall, the programme aims to reach more than 90,000 people in Cambodia, Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga in the five-year period ending June 2026.
With my fruit basket and your fruit basket, our people shall thrive.
Fijian farmers adapting to face challenges
Tutu Rural Training Centre on Taveuni Island in Fiji is recognised as a national leader in providing agricultural, business and life-skills to young men and women farmers, with an underlying Marian spirituality.
Tutu student Apakuki formed a group of six young farmers from his home village. Each of these young farmers initiated a planting programme for cash crops yaqona – used to make kava – and dalo (taro), based on what Apakuki had learned at Tutu.
Pate from Korotasere in Vanua Levu had both his parents return to his village after living in Suva. His mother had lost her job as a sports journalist. When schools reopened, his parents returned to Suva with their younger children. But while in the village they planted 1,000 cassava plants, with the harvested cassava expected to be sent to the family in Suva.
John from Naweni in Vanua Levu also experienced village returnees coming back from tourist and urban areas. Many focused on short-term crops for cash. He wanted to teach the new farmers things he had learned at Tutu such as time management, crop calendars, and budgeting.
‘We got together as a group to help clean up these blocks together – so everyone starts together.’ He said it is good that people are working together and sharing knowledge.
All three of these young farmers agreed that a lot of people are falling into the trap of thinking about quick money, which they did not consider was good. The COVID-19 crisis has taught them they need to have many baskets and not rely just on one thing such as tourism. They concluded, ‘people before used to look down on us as farmers, now we are the ones who the people from the urban areas look up to.’
‘The more I stand higher, the more I can help others’
Saroeurn Rachna has worked for Caritas’ Cambodia partner Development Partnership in Action (DPA) for seven years. She now oversees other staff, leads planning and staff development, develops budgets and monitors expenditure, and helps with data collection and report writing, among many other tasks.
Rachna says, ‘DPA is a non-profit, local organisation with a good reputation and good policies. And what I like most about DPA is working for the poor, especially vulnerable people… I love working to help the poor to improve their livelihood through access for their products to market. When they get money from selling their products, they smile from their heart and on behalf of community development worker, I am also excited and feeling proud of myself and my powerful team for working from heart to make changes.’
Rachna began working for DPA as a community development facilitator in Mondulkiri province. ‘Although, now I become an assistant provincial project manager,…I still dream bigger than this because I think the more I stand higher the more I can help others. …I want to become a policy maker for the poor and vulnerable to help them from hunger, ensure a good standard of living and wellbeing. Others say, “It is hard work, more responsibilities, less time for yourself….” But for me, I live to move forward and help others as much as I can.’
Finance and sewing skills for women in Solomon Islands
Saroeurn Rachna has worked He Oranga Taurikura Solomon Islands is working to strengthen training provided by 10 rural training centres through the umbrella organisation Solomon Islands Association of Vocational and Rural Training Centres (SIAVRTC).
In one example of ‘training the trainers’, 20 women attended a combined financial literacy and sewing course in the capital Honiara in mid-2022. Training was provided for 10 life-skills’ teachers or instructors from the remote Rural Training Centres along with 10 women from the community near each centre.
In the first week, the women learnt basic financial knowledge and skills to manage their finances and those of the organisation they represent. The second week was devoted to elevating their knowledge and skills in sewing, such as learning about pattern making, measurement and making complete products such as dresses and shirts.
SIAVRTC’s report on the training concluded:
‘Caritas and SIAVRTC have given these 20 women the skills for their lifetime. This is because they learn how to spend money and create opportunities to get money. Furthermore, the second week made them very active by making things possible for them to learn skills in sewing that they require to share with students and the community they represent.’
Ratanakiri, Cambodia – supporting Indigenous Khmer-Loeu performing arts. This group, attached to a recently developed cashew-nut processing activity, demonstrates traditional music and dance. The group has been invited to travel and share aspects of their Bunong culture across other provinces in Cambodia.Baucau HAFOTI group leader Mana Maria Joana da Silva demonstrates her own innovation of a five-tiered system for filtering virgin coconut oil. This system is being implemented across all centres producing coconut oil.Ratanakiri Province, Cambodia – a smallholding farmer demonstrates use of equipment used in chicken-raising for He Oranga Taurikura DPA Integrated Community Development (ICD) programme manager, Lay Sophea.Mondulkiri Province, Cambodia – a farming couple explains mushroom propagation through a system developed with specialist training, mentoring and assistance with inputs from He Oranga Taurikura Cambodia.