Tag Archives: Caritas Oceania

International Women’s Day: Tapa in Tonga

Lisa Vehikite (in green) discusses the Tapa prject with Caritas Tonga staff. Credit: Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand

Lisa Vehikite (in green) talks about the Tapa prject with Caritas Tonga staff. Credit: Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand

By Martin de Jong, Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand

Lisa Vehikite is the leader of a tapa-making (cloth-making) group that is finding new life through a Caritas programme in Tonga. Lisa’s group is one of 43 micro-enterprises benefiting from small loans provided through Caritas Tonga in partnership with Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand. The scheme has been made possible by the New Zealand Aid programme and our New Zealand donors.

Lisa’s husband works in Australia picking fruit for seven months each year. She has five children at home in Utulau Village on the main island of Tongatapu. Income she earns through the tapa making group helps pay her children’s school fees. She heard about the scheme at a community meeting where Caritas Tonga’s Amelia Ma’afu spoke. ‘This project makes me feel like I am a real mother … someone else is helping us to do our work at home,’ says Lisa. Her dream is to one day have her own handicraft shop.

In all, groups involved in the three-year Caritas programme will reach 425 households in 21 villages across Tongatapu and Vava’u to the north. Groups consisting of 8 to 15 people are given a loan of up to 5,000 Tongan pa’anga (NZ$3,516) at a low interest rate of three percent (standard Tonga interest rates are as high as 25 percent). Monthly repayments are made over a 12-month term. Once the loan is repaid, the funds are available for other groups to use – or the same group for a new project.

Most projects involve traditional activities such as tapa making, mat weaving, pig and chicken farming, sewing, fishing, and crop growing. Crops include peanuts, yams, kava and cassava. Products are sold at local markets.

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Filed under Advocacy, New Zealand, Oceania, Tonga, Women

Oceania feeling the brunt of climate change

Caritas colleagues Bobby Newsome and Christina Ma'afu greet each other with the traditional Maori Hongi

by Martin de Jong, Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand

Against a backdrop of severe drought across the central Pacific, Caritas Oceania representatives from eight different nations gathered in Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand earlier this month for their annual forum.

About 25 people attended the week-long event, including representatives from Caritas Internationalis, and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) – Asia. Many of the states represented, such as Tonga and Kiribati, are among the most vulnerable to climate change due to their low-lying nature or vulnerable shorelines.

A closing statement from the forum said its members stand ‘in solidarity with the poor and marginalized of the region. We are particularly concerned by the impact of climate change in our area.’ Continue reading

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Filed under Advocacy, Climate Change, Food, New Zealand, Oceania