The first shipment of equipment from the Heilala Vanilla Foundation has arrived at Vava’u High School, in the Kingdom of Tonga.
The foundation has donated over 100 kitchen items to the school’s Home Economics Department including an oven, toasters, frying pans, blenders and cake mixers along with cutlery and utensils.
Award-winning Heilala Vanilla launched the Heilala Vanilla Foundation last year to build on its already strong ties with the island community of Vava’u.
The partnership between Heilala Vanilla and the people of Vava’u began as an aid project 10 years ago, helping to rebuild after a cyclone. This initial act of kindness by Heilala Vanilla founder, John Ross, led to the founding of Heilala Vanilla.
Jennifer Boggiss, Heilala Vanilla co-founder and director, says due to the remoteness of the Vava’u Islands, access to educational resources and equipment can be limited.
“One of the foundation’s aims is to give students the opportunity to learn more about food preparation and nutrition,” she says. “We have worked closely with principal Sela Tapaatoutai-Teisina for several months to identify and compile a list of equipment needed for Home Economics Department which included cookware and kitchen appliances.”
The current acting principal 'Utulamataki Paongo Tonga and her team were excited and overwhelmed with the supplies that arrived.
“We are very passionate about food and nutrition and look forward to seeing the students flourish,” she says. “Food is a central part of our community and our new resources will enable us to expand the students’ knowledge which they can share with their families. It will bring a new lease of life to the department which up until now has consisted of a broken oven and a limited number of utensils.”
Jennifer says establishing the foundation demonstrates Heilala Vanilla’s commitment to the people of Vava’u and says this shipment is the first of many.
“We are very happy to have completed our first project with Vava’u High School. Home Economics has a great synergy with Heilala Vanilla and we see the incredible importance of working with young people in Tonga.”
The foundation’s next project will be equipment and teaching materials for the school’s science department.
Heilala Vanilla will contribute a percentage of sales of vanilla beans grown and exported from Vava’u, and some funds from other sources, to the foundation, which is registered with the NZ Charities Commission.