World Vision today hosted the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who learned about the organization’s work in Burns Creek, a troubled community on the outskirts of Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands.
“They greeted me like we’d met before. We spoke about what Burns creek used to be like – it was dangerous and messed up,” said 29-year-old Ellison Mataifiri, who represented the community.
“I told them about our community savings project. They asked lots of questions,” said Ellison. “They wanted to know why we didn’t go to the bank, and I explained that people can’t read or write. The big banks are a long way away, and they won’t lend to us.”
“I was so honored to meet them. Last night I couldn’t go to bed early , I just thought about what I was going to say.”
Ellison explained World Vision’s work in economic development, saving, and employment to William and Kate. The couple were presented with an honorary savings passbook.
“Inside the passbook I stamped ‘Burns Creek Number 1, Duke of Cambridge Number 1,’” said Ellison.
Burns Creek faces many challenges including high unemployment, limited educational opportunities and high instances of drug, alcohol and physical abuse. World Vision has been working with the community for the past 18 months to change attitudes towards substance abuse and violence, and to create opportunities for youth through education and training. Ellison said the royal visit would leave a lasting impression on the community.
“Our community has never seen a couple like that before, and they got to shake their hands. It’s a big story for Burns Creek today. For the past few years we haven’t felt part of Honiara. Today we feel powerful, and we feel recognized.”
During their two day stay, the Royal couple also met with young business owners Louise and Cain Whitney.
Louise and Cain live in Burns Creek as well. Cain and Louise will shared with William and Kate about how they are turning their lives around. Cain left school early and turned to drugs and alcohol and was unable to meet his family’s needs. After receiving training from World Vision, he started a small piggery business and now feels more confident because he can support his family.
His wife Louise attended training as well and now runs her own grocery store. Louise says they now have “peace in the home” and a bright future for their children.
The South Asia and Pacific region is home to a billion people who live on less than $2 a day. Levels of chronic child hunger and malnutrition are among the highest in the world.
World Vision is one of the largest and most experienced non-government agencies in the Solomon Islands. The organization has been working there for more than three decades, with a special focus on children and empowering communities to shape their own development in areas like health, education and economic development.