In Vanuatu, rapid population growth has put pressure on education services and job opportunities. Budget restrictions mean there are not enough secondary school places — it’s not uncommon for children to finish formal education at age 10. Employment choices for these young people are often limited to helping with domestic chores or working on small family farms. With limited access to further education and employment, many Ni-Vanuatu youth experience economic and social marginalisation.
With Australian aid support through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP), Oxfam Australia works with these young people to increase their economic opportunities and address the barriers to their economic empowerment.
Oxfam partners with Youth Challenge Vanuatu (YCV), a local NGO working in youth leadership and livelihoods. YCV gives Ni-Vanuatu youth opportunities to increase their skills through engaging in community development programs, training and internships, business mentoring and access to career support.
Oxfam Vanuatu’s Program officer, Mini Mului, is one of the many people who could vouch for the success of YCV. Mini was enjoying school, but had to leave when she fell pregnant. She spent the next three years caring for her daughter and thinking she’d never have a chance to continue her love of learning. To support her family, she got a job as a cleaning lady at YCV. She watched with interest those whose lives were being transformed before her. “I became more curious about the programs and wanted to participate in the training myself,” she stated.
In 2010, Mini became a participant in the Future Leaders Program. She received training about life skills, leadership, gender-based violence, personal budgeting, job seeking, computer skills and first aid. She also participated in a community project; working with other volunteers, community leaders and youth to build a primary school classroom on Tongoa Island.
Following that she started working as a community projects intern with YCV, and then became a Field Team Leader coordinating volunteers in their respective community projects. In 2015, she joined Oxfam Vanuatu as a Program Officer and is relishing the learning opportunities about good governance, leadership, resilience, climate change, food security and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).
Oxfam, through YCV, supports the breadth of young people – from rural to urban based, young men and women, and those with a disability. By supporting youth employment, leadership and entrepreneurship opportunities, they have positively impacted the lives of many Ni-Vanuatu youth.