On Friday 13th March 2015, Super Cyclone Pam hit the small island nation of Vanuatu destroying many villages across a number of islands, leaving the infrastructure and the people devastated and without homes.
With roofs gone, no drinking water, no power, no food, roads blocked and/or completely demolished, bridges down and fallen trees everywhere, people need assistance to get back to their daily life where children go to school, parents go to work and there is a dry place for them all to eat and sleep.
Four women, who all had a connection with Vanuatu, decided to do something about it and they set up SHaRM (Steph, Helen, Robin and Marg) with the aim of rebuilding as many schools and kindies as possible so the children impacted could have access to an education. As it turns out, these structures can also serve as a place for communities to safely gather when there is another extreme weather event.
About a year after we started, Marg retired to Adelaide and Stu and Deb Friend joined our team.
Our aim is ‘BUILDING A BRIGHTER FUTURE FOR VANUATU’S CHILDREN’.
We have been extremely grateful for the contributions we have received through this site, family and friends, organisations we partner with such as Rotary Clubs in Australia and New Zealand, Victorian CWA and people who donate prizes for our fund raising activities.
We have established a pretty good formula for delivering projects – Steph liaises with donors and the Vanuatu Ministry of Education and Customs Department, develops the proposals, works through the financials and compliance and finalises the reports. Cyrille Mainguy (local engineer) puts together the plans and ensures the buildings meet cyclone and earthquake codes. Stu manages the project delivery by setting up the team (we partner with local communities), getting the materials (which sometimes includes the food for the workers) and overseeing the work. Deb gives her time to support Stu and other SHaRM activities. Robin and Helen focus on fund raising and sourcing items for the kids and buildings.
WHY SHOULD YOU SUPPORT US? Because we get the job done with no payments to any ‘middle men’ and just sheer determination and adherence to transparency and our objective. The ‘proof is in the pudding’ and you can see below some of SHaRM’s achievements.
Stephanie (Steph) Neilson has an extensive legal background extending over 30 years as a legal executive (para legal) in New Zealand, Australia, UK and Vanuatu.
With several years working within the NGO sector in Vanuatu, Steph has secured and implemented over 20 projects within Vanuatu across various fields, and therefore brings local knowledge as well creative project development, management and implementation to the SHaRM team.
Steph is committed to ensuring educational and youth based projects have a long term sustainable impact in Vanuatu and these are key objectives of SHaRM’s aims.
Helen Collier-Kogtevs is the Managing Director of Real Wealth Australia, a leading education and mentoring company for real estate investors.
She is not only a highly successful property investor and an educator, but also a bestselling author, and a philanthropist.
Robin Culph is a change management consultant who built her house in Vanuatu in 2006 and, while currently working in Melbourne, visits Vanuatu four to five times a year with the intention of ‘retiring there’ in the near future.
Stuart Friend joined SHaRM after the departure of Margaret Manhire. Stuart is the Chief Pilot with Air Vanuatu and has project managed many of the building projects. His passion for helping local communities drives him to delivering buildings that are not only used for learning (classrooms) but also ensuring that they are cyclone proof enough for the community to use during cyclone events.
Marg Manhire along with her husband, has been resident in Vanuatu (on Devils Point Road, Mele) since 2005, during which time she has developed a close relationship with local ex-pats and Ni-Vanuatu, in particular, the Melemaat villagers and Wasisi people at Prima.
Margaret also has an extensive background in business. Well-known locally for her past roles as the key person in “Ground Force” and as Practice Manager for the Vila Bay Health Centre, her commercial experience extends to specialized Senior nursing management positions in Australia, office management, real estate sales and personnel recruitment.
A no-nonsense people and business manager, Margaret and her abilities are held in very high esteem both in Vanuatu and in Australia.