What is the origin of your innovation? Tell your story.
My husband and I came to Vanuatu to retire. Instead we created and still operate a small boutique accommodation, Seachange Lodge, in Port Vila, Vanuatu. We enjoy meeting with people from all walks of life and different parts of the world.
We have always given very special consideration to anyone who comes into the country to assist the people of Vanuatu.
In 2004 we were introduced to a group of people from the far northern islands, the Banks area. It was love at first sight.
Since then, 10% of all profit from Seachange Lodge (who’ s counting) has been sent north to this far flung community. Simple tools, to school supplies and hand turned sewing machines and material. We helped them the first 'Christmas' they had ever experienced, in that every family received something. It didn’t matter if it was only a plastic washing bowl or bucket. It was a small gift for each home.
Our greatest delight was when the women sent back asking for more material, with a small amount of cash. (Some tourists pass through this isolated area).
On a visit to these delightful islanders, we discovered that top achieving students in primary school, would never have the opportunity for a high school education.
We racked our brains as to how we could help these people. Selling our property would supply our own superannuation, but nothing left to keep helping these beautiful islanders.
YouMe Support Foundation was birthed, with winaresort.com. By giving Seachange Lodge away on the Internet, we would raise enough finance to place $2million in a Trust Fund.
We would be paid market value for Seachange Lodge and there would be enough left in the fund to start another project for the island communities.
So began a long and interesting journey. Yes, we experienced, frustration, desperation, exhaustion, right through to elation and victory. All in a mix I might add. No one had ever tried this unique blend: raffle, charity, tourism all rolled into one. Dear friends kept pointing out that we had to concentrate on one or the other. Quietly we continued on our own pathway. Better to have tried and proved wrong, than to never have tried at all.
Because we live in Vanuatu, a tax-free haven, we met hurdles you wouldn’t otherwise experience, put up by the financial community to prevent money laundering. Perfectly understandable. However, we had a legitimate project that was worthy of pursuing.
One by one, (occasionally several at once) we faced each hurdle and overcame them. January 15th winaresort.com was finally launched.
Surely our hurdles were behind us now?
Wrong! We faced a different set: public skepticism. Was this for real? Who in their right mind would give away a South Pacific island resort, with a tax free income, plus cash prizes?
Press releases, articles, email campaigns and coming to terms with web marketing proved to be our strong points, and meeting the right people at just the right time.
We had worked with the community for over three years. We had positive results. We wanted even greater results. We wanted to provide these children with the opportunity to be an active part of 21st century. We wanted education to break the cashless cycle. We wanted to enhance the simple way of life the islanders enjoyed. We wanted to give the next generation a choice.
It is a massive enterprise, growing bigger by the day. Determination, Dedication and Discipline are the three D's that make the dream a reality.
What have we learned from all this? Dare to dream and dare to dream big. Follow through your dream. Your dream can make a difference to other people's lives.
Please provide a personal bio. Note this may be used in Changemakers' marketing material.
Doctor of Divinity
15 years as administrator/owner of a Child Care Kindergarten in Australia;
17 years as a co-pastor of a church;
3 years teaching English as a second language in Hong Kong;
4 years and ongoing as owner operator of Seachange Lodge, boutique accommodation in Vanuatu;
2 years on Executive Committee of Vanuatu Hotels and Resorts Association;
CEO of YouMe Support Foundation since 2007
My husband - 25 years as Flight Service Director in Qantas,
6 years instructor in St. John Ambulance
Founding Director of Oxley Private College, Bowral, New South Wales, Australia.
Please write an overview of your project. This text will appear when people scroll over the icon for your entry on the Google map located on the competition homepage.
YouMe Support Foundation provides higher education grants for children in isolated areas, who are living in a cashless society.
Without outside assistance, these children will never have the opportunity to go to high school.
They will never have the opportunity to leave their isolated island home and learn things that can enhance their simple custom village way of life. They will never have the opportunity to actively partake in the 21st century. They will never have the chance to fulfill their dreams.
YouMe Support Foundation in partnership with winaresort.com gives a unique, world first opportunity to raise funds, through giving away an exotic South Pacific island resort. Some lucky person will become the new owner of Seachange Lodge. Children from the far north of Vanuatu, will be granted non-repayable high school education grants.
Volunteer/adventure tourists are encouraged to visit these beautiful isolated island people. Take in school and medical supplies and share whatever knowledge they have, which can enhance the villager’s way of life. Just sitting and talking with the children is a deeply moving experience.
Visitors receive a royal welcome. Villagers have the opportunity to learn. An unforgettable experience for everyone. The hardest part is saying goodbye.