What is Co-Ground?

This charity is very close to my heart, being involved during it’s creation and art directing the brand direction – it’s amazing to watch it evolve.

Born from an idea to work with a community on Epi Island Vanuatu to help recover from Cyclone Pam – in a very short amount of time Co-Ground has gone from concept to reality. They have an operating coffee van with some very generous donors assuring 100% of profits go towards the Vanuatu school project. Also numerous fundraising events throughout the year and even – with the help from a Jetstar grant -expanding into projects in the Phillipines.

(check out more over at co-ground.org)

Sara village was a short flight from Port Vila on a tiny little plane. Approaching Epi Island I started to understand the remoteness of this place.

Finding the Story

Arriving on the island with Andrew (one of the Co-Ground directors) being shown around and meeting people from the community I got a sudden understanding of the project. The environment, the beautiful surroundings and fertile land, the self sustainable way of living and most of all – the passion that the leaders and parents in this community have for the education of their children. The latest Co-Ground project involves building a library for the school. A lot of the books were destroyed during Cyclone Pam and to have a place where these assets can be protected and where children can learn to read is very important. During my first few days on Epi Island we met with community members to help organise and understand the technical aspects of the build.

Sans camera, with Maki on the walk to meet local builder – Kaiwia, to start the discussion about the school project. 

Kaiwia (on the right ) has led school building projects for the Vanuatu Government & UN funded projects and ended up offering to lead the Sara school library project at half his usual price as a statement of his support. 


Filming

I had decided that because it had been so eye opening visiting the project in person that I wanted to show this to Co-Ground supporters back home what Sara Village is like. If you’re buying a coffee or donating money I think it’s important to be able to see and understand where this money is going. My idea was to get one of the children to introduce us to the village – showing the viewer around – welcoming us in. Then to interview the chief and community leaders about the project. One thing I noticed immediately was the pride they had about Co-Ground. Co-Ground wasn’t about people in Australia sending money over to Vanuatu to build a school – Co-Ground was the Vanuatu community. They had totally ownership over this project – so who better to explain it than them themselves.

The kids were still on school holidays so Maki fortunately organised a morning where the kids would all come to a class for the morning – surprisingly they were all pretty excited about it.

I started by taking portraits, these would come in handy for Co-Ground in the future & I could also get to know the kids a bit better and also work out who was comfortable in front of the camera.


From there I met Luke and friends. They were great to hang out with and happy to show me around. He even put up with me asking to hold that chicken which wasn’t as cooperative as it looks in the final piece.

Final Video

It took me a while to work out how to tell this story, and there was many days just hanging out with the community. All in all the main filming took about half a day and I scattered interviews throughout the time I was there. The video was a success & Co-Ground has since used it for fund-raising and to show Australian volunteers and supporters exactly what we are supporting. It has also been beneficial in making the bond between the volunteers in both countries a little bit stronger.

Vanuatu is such a beautiful country and the Co-Ground community in Sara village welcomed me with open arms. They were so generous and appreciative of the support they are getting for their children and the library project is well under way. Visit Vanuatu if you get the chance – they are still feeling the effects of Cyclone Pam and the tourism dollar goes a long way to help. Just be careful of the Kava – it can have quite a kick to it 🙂