This week, Prince William and his wife, Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, visited World Vision’s programs in the Solomon Islands as part of their Diamond Jubilee tour.
Koisau Sade, gender issues coordinator for World Vision in the Solomon Islands, had tea with the Duchess and shared about how World Vision is working to put a stop to domestic abuse there.
* * *
I was lucky enough to meet her Royal Highness at a special “ladies morning tea” attended by female church and business leaders, the wives of politicians, and representatives from several non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
While I was incredibly nervous ahead of the meeting, I was also really keen to give her an insight into the issues affecting the Solomon Islands and World Vision’s work here.
The Duchess was greeted at the leaf hut venue by children in traditional dress. Although her schedule was tight (and she was already behind), she stopped to interact with them and say hello.
Once inside, she spent a few minutes with women from each sector. She approached the NGO workers last and asked whether we all knew each other. I think we were all a bit star-struck (she is even prettier in real life!) but I managed to get myself together and explain we often work alongside each other.
I took the opportunity to introduce myself, telling her I was the gender issues coordinator for World Vision in the Solomon Islands. The Duchess then asked whether domestic abuse was a big problem here.
I replied that roughly 64 percent of women and girls in this country have experienced physical or sexual abuse (or both) at some stage in their lives. She was visibly stunned by that figure, stating that it was “alarming indeed.”
She seemed to want to know more, so I told her about some of the work World Vision is doing to reduce gender-based violence, including partnering with various churches. I explained the church is an incredibly influential authority in this country, with over 92 percent of the population identifying themselves as Christian.
The Duchess seemed to be genuinely interested in what each of us had to say. She asked questions and really listened to the answers.
Before the conflict a few years ago, the Solomon Islands was known as the “happy isles,” and, in my opinion, the royal visit has helped a lot to restore the smiles to peoples’ faces (including my own!) once more.
Read related post: Sharing my story with the royal couple
Read related article: Prince William and Kate visit World Vision in South Pacific