Opening a new chapter
Co-Ground believes everyone should have the right to a good education, that's why our Vanuatu and Australian teams are working together to build a library and classroom at Sara Primary School on remote South-West Epi Island, Vanuatu.
This project will not only give kids a better chance at education, it will provide an opportunity for adults to learn and will upskill local builders.
Thanks to the support of Rotary International, Co-Ground Coffee, Japan Dental Mission, the Vanuatu Ministry Blong Education & Training and over 100 empowered local volunteers on Epi Island, the building's foundation has been laid - but we need your help to make it a library!
So who is Co-Ground?
We are, and you can be too! Co-Ground is an Anti-Poverty Award winning charity. We’ve grown from 3 to 45 passionate volunteers in Melbourne, Australia and eight villages in Vanuatu. Our Vanuatu team consists of teachers, students, parents and local leaders. We believe in strong partnerships, empowered communities and social enterprise.
We believe change happens when communities work together and that projects should be led and driven at a local level.
In 2016 we won Jetstar's Flying Start Grant to expand our global community to the Philippines and this year we launched our first social enterprise cafe, Co-Ground Coffee, in Collingwood. Some of our partners include the Vanuatu Ministry of Education, YMCA Victoria, Five Senses, Pace of Collingwood and La Marzocco.
In March 2015, Category 5 Cyclone Pam devastated Vanuatu. Founders Andrew Mellody and Nicole Precel wanted to do something to help. Alongside friend Aleksei Plinte they put on events under the banner of Melbourne for Vanuatu, raising money to directly support effected communities.
Co-Ground was born through a shared desire from communities in Vanuatu and a new community of volunteers in Australia to work together in improving education and livelihoods. Now with active locally led programs in Vanuatu and Australia we are expanding our impact and global community to the Philippines.
Our team includes; graphic designers, journalists, baristas, filmmakers, lawyers, finance professionals, social entrepreneurs, events coordinators, teachers, builders, community organisers, and so many more change-makers. Above all...
...we want to work together to make the world a better place. Don’t you?
The Sara Primary School library and classroom construction is well under way!
Phase 1 of the project began in January and February 2017 and involved laying the foundation for this new school building.
190 bags of cement
854 meters of assorted steel rods
5 large sheets of mesh reinforcing wire
15kg tie wire
50 meters of black plastic sheeting,
165 meters of NZ treated pine
A cement block-making mould
Shipping from Port Vila to Epi
1 Ministry approved builder (Kaiwia)
1 local builder (Paul)
Eight villages volunteering on a rotating basis
Training workshops and skills building
Lots of laughter, fun and singing
As with every project Co-Ground works to ensure not a dollar goes to waste. We keep overheads low, and through strong partnerships make huge impacts. We recieved a 20 per cent discount at Wilco Hardware in Port Vila. In preparation for the project, all eight villages established Sumbafote Council - a new area council.
The new council was established to make working on shared projects, like the school library and classroom, easier to manage. Each village decides which days they would like to volunteer and together all the villages create a working roster for each project. This new process was a big success during this first phase of the project.
Kaiwia, who lives in Sara Village is taking on the key role of lead builder at half his usual price. He has previously led school building projects for the Vanuatu Government and on UN-funded projects.
He is also passionate about using this project as a training opportunity for up-and-coming local builders. The community has also decided to fund local Sara-based builder, Paul, who is eager to take on a project of this size for the first time.
Block making is now underway in the community until Phase 2 begins in July, which will be the final construction.
Where to from here?
The Sara community is continuing to run fundraising events for this project after raising over $500 for phase 1.
Read Pacific - which has the government contract for schools in Vanuatu - has generously offered to supply $2000 worth of books as a donation when the library is complete.
Our social enterprise cafe, Co-Ground Coffee, is now open in Collingwood, Melbourne, five days a week - with 100% of the profit from food and drink sales are supporting projects like these.
If you are in Melbourne come say hi to social enterprise director, Todd Nicholls and the team! 51 Langridge St, Collingwood, 7am-3pm Wednesday through Sunday.
We invite you to join our global community. Help make this library and classroom building in remote Vanuatu a reality.
Thank you for your enthusiasm and support.
- The Co-Ground Team