VANUATU NGO BODY REVIVED BY NZAID FUNDING

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VANGO hires new Secretary General

By Godwin Ligo PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, March 22, 2010) - Members of civil society in Vanuatu must have a stronger voice in order to have a positive influence on the government in all-important decisions that directly or indirectly affect the daily lives of the people.

This is the view of Anthea Toka who is the new VANGO Secretary General.

Toka assumed the position of SG of VANGO a month ago after NZAID injected a grant of VUV32 million [US$326,000] into the NGOs umbrella organization that was faced with financial difficulties over the past years.

Speaking to Daily Post about her new role Toka said, "My aim is to bring back the confidence to all VANGO 82 affiliate members throughout the country and make their voice heard on issues affecting the daily lives of the people of this country," she said.Toka said, "The road is not easy but there has to be a road map to keep VANGO moving in the right direction in the years ahead.

"VANGO must embark on mobilizing the civil society to take a united stand with clear voice on issues affecting the daily lives of our people," she said.

"It is also my wish to see young people positioning themselves with sense of pride of who they are and what they can do to contribute positively in the decision making process of this nation because, tomorrow belongs to them," she said.

A determined Toka told Daily Post there was lack of information sharing among VANGO members throughout Vanuatu resulting in the masses not fully aware of all the benefits that the country could get from either the national government or foreign governments," she said.

"We will embark on an exchange of information flow program among all VANGO members.

"This is to ensure that they have the information at their fingertips and be able to participate in the decision-making process on issues of national interest that either benefit their people or have a negative impact on their life".

"The services must reach the people in all communities and VANGO members also have a role as vehicles to deliver the services.

"VANGO members must work together to empower the people to appreciate all the local resources they already have at home and use those to strengthen their economic and social welfare before, looking for outside help," Toka said.

Commenting on the appointment of the new VANGO SG a long time NGO advocators Lai Sakita said it was time the organization hired a female executive to show that Vanuatu meant business on gender equity.

Sakita added "most young people today feel that the country is moving away from the vision of Independence which is resulting in the current social problems that the country is faced with today.

"Vanuatu is at the crossroads after 30 years of independence to make hard decisions for a better tomorrow and the civil society and the young people are the partners in this process," he said.

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