Mary Siro is National Coordinator of Youth@Work

By Len Garae

“I believe that taking the Youth@Work Training Programme to the islands is the right thing to do because our participants have their families to live with on their own land to train to work to develop their land

and not become attracted by the bright lights of Port Vila where they have nowhere to stay and can turn to crime.

“The idea is to attract our young people from Port Vila and Luganville to return home and learn to set up their own businesses at home”.

National Coordinator of Youth@Work Vanuatu, Mary Siro, 28, makes the statement saying this year the programme is targeting young people on Malekula, Ambrym and Ambae beginning next month.

Youth @ Work Vanuatu is a dynamic programme that targets young unemployed school leavers and drop outs to train them to become useful contributors to development.

The advantage of the programme is that successful participants are provided with funding to start their own businesses.

The Coordinator says she is working with chiefs of the communities and villages and women’s leaders and provincial officers to select the eligible participants for the programme. “The training programme is funded by Youth@work in partnership with the Vanuatu Government Ministry of Youths and Sports”, she says.

Asked how successful the programme has been for the 52 participants in Luganville who were the first to take part in the training when it was introduced last year, she says 30 participants are interested in setting up their own businesses while 22 are on internship. “Unlike here in Port Vila, it is extra tough in the Northern Town because employment opportunities are limited”, she says.

To the potential participants in the programme on Malekula, the National Coordinator says the two-week long training will take place at Vinmavis to allow young people from the surrounding villages to attend.

The same programme will take place on South East Ambrym and at Walaha on Ambae.

She warns that all participants are expected to comply with the rules to stay on the programme. “Everyone must not smoke marijuana or consume alcohol and must be punctual. If you miss classes twice, don’t come back”, she warns.

All participants must volunteer for the programme and bring their own food.

Mary Siro who is from Malekula/Pentecost has been awarded the Queen’s Young Leaders Award for her voluntary service at WSB over a ten-year period.

Mary Siro deserves the recognition he received from the Queen because she is a fighter. She dropped out of school at year 9 due to school fee shortage. Instead of sitting in limbo at Lamap, she heard about the training opportunities at WSB offered to young people and boarded a ship to Port Vila to join the programmes.

It was her success story at WSB that elevated her to receive the prestigious award from Buckingham Palace. “It is possible for another young ni Vanuatu to win the award again. Come on out and work towards your target”, she challenges young people.

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