Port Vila, 14 September 2020 - Having the passion for community service did not stop her from pursuing opportunities to empower her community.

A teacher by profession, Deborah Gigina is also a skilled tailor and with that thrive, she was part of a sewing project funded by a non-government organization from Australia back in 2015.

“The project benefited a lot of our communities especially schools with their high demand on uniforms and other activities but after it ended, everyone was faced with challenges especially when it came to students needing uniforms and weddings. People had to order for uniforms or clothes from main towns in Vila and Luganville,” she said

“With all these challenges, I decided to start a tailor shop, so I came to Vila and during my search, I met an officer from the Department of Energy who notified me that the community of Angoro on North Pentecost was going to have a solar system installed to provide electricity to help the people directly and this would cover the northern part of the island.”

Our long-time aspiration was eventually met by the Barrier Removal for Achieving the National Energy Road Map Targets for Vanuatu (BRANTV) project through the Department of Energy with a successful launch of a 2460Watt solar system for the Angoro community on 17 July 2020. The PV solar system was installed with supply of productive uses of two electric sewing machines to help the women earn income from sewing.

The mother of four, Mrs Gigina reiterated that prior to having the solar system installed at Angoro, she was asked by the BRANTV technical team to find a good site for the sewing project and identify a room to house the tailor shop.

“I come from the village of Loane and Angoro is our main station where we access most of the essential services hence, I decided that this was the best site to set up our Saonleo Sewing and Handicraft Shop with easy access to that solar power,” she said.

“Apart from sewing part-time, I am the Principal of Atavtabanga Primary School and since we opened our shop, we have received a lot of orders. Demands are increasing at this time of the year when schools are preparing for end of year activities, families have plans for the Xmas holidays and weddings, so I have one full time tailor at the Saonleo Sewing & Handicraft shop who works from Monday to Friday and I help out during my free time.”

The tailor shop is slowly booming with orders coming in from as far as the South of Pentecost island where schools such as Ranwadi Junior Secondary School have made an order for graduation gowns to be sewn by Saonleo Sewing & Handicraft tailors.

“We are very grateful to have a solar system that is able to provide power not only for lights but to enable us to use electrical appliances such as the sewing machines to make our work faster, efficient and providing a satisfactory service to happy clients,” Mrs Gigina said.

“It’s a relief that after four years, we now have a power supply that does not need fuel expense as it is always there, and it is affordable no matter the remoteness of the area.”

Mrs Gigina stated that her passion in sewing and the opportunity of having a 24hr power supply on site makes her want to expand the shop and do more for the women in North Pentecost.

Mrs Deborah Gigina.
BRANTV Project Manager, Doreen Leona (l) and Mrs Debra Gigina (far right) inside the Saonleo Sewing & Handicraft Shop pictured with the two electric sewing machines.