It was all smiles for the Sikotau women’s group from Ifira in collaboration with the few mamas from Pango village when they donated a sum of AUD965 to the Australian High Commissioner, to help support the Australians battling the catastrophic bushfire crisis.
The ceremony at the Main Wharf yesterday morning saw the Mama vendors, from Ifira and Pango, displaying an impressive welcome to the Australian High Commissioner, Jenny Da Rin, before speeches were made followed by the handing over of the cash donation.
Ms Annie Kalo, the President of the Sikotau Women’s Group said the group wanted to assist the bushfire victims.
“It is a token of appreciation as most of the times, when we Mamas come to sell our products, most of our buyers are Australians compared to other nationalities, therefore we feel it is fitting for us to donate in return to show our gratitude and heartfelt sympathy to the Australian families,” she said.
“They help us provide food for our families at home, school fees and other expenses.
“When we heard about the disaster taking place in Australia, we feel it is best to contribute to the bushfire victims,” Ms Kalo said.
Australian High Commissioner Jenny Da Rin was in tears and was overwhelmed to witness the donation given by the Ifira and Pango Mama vendors.
She said it expressed love, support, care, prayers and concern, for Australia suffering from the bushfire crisis.
“Once again, it highlighted for me how strong the relationship was between the Vanuatu people and the Australians and hopes that endures for a long time to come,” Ms Da Rin said.
“I have been aware of groups around Port Vila fundraising to donate to the Australians, a huge commitment, time and energy.
“For us, it’s a heartfelt effort to show support for Australians, and we are overwhelmed with the expressions of support, by the generosity that we are seeing from the ordinary ni-Vanuatu and the funds they are raising will help with the worthy causes, the Salvation army, the Red Cross, the service clubs that are supporting communities, groups that are saving wildlife and the Australian firefighters out in the field.
“I just want to thank everybody again, for their care and their concern, and to say how much Australians appreciate this.”
As Ms Da Rin is ending her term as Commissioner, she said she has mixed feelings on leaving Vanuatu.
“As you can imagine, I’ve had a wonderful three years here as the Australian High Commissioner. It’s been a privilege to learn about the country, to travel and meet people but I know I leave the High Commission in good hands,” she said.
“I had a wonderful start and there is a fabulous new High Commissioner who will replace me.
“I am confident that the relationship will grow from strength to strength. But I can tell you that there will always be a small piece of Vanuatu in my heart. Thank you and goodbye.”
The ceremony ended with a farewell song to the High Commissioner and her delegation.