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  • Ian Gray

Employing 14 people each day running 2 shifts...

Updated: Oct 27, 2021

When Dr Dan Etherington and his wife Maureen visited Annette and Dent Soma in the Solomon Islands they were busier than ever running the Verahue DME Unit which they had started in 2016 - as well as a shop and a guest house. They are also called on to settle community disputes and are active in the local church.

For 30 years both Annette and Dent worked in Honiara the capital city of the Solomons. Annette was a nurse and Dent an accountant. They raised four children: one is a lawyer, another a doctor, one works in the Australian High Commission and one followed in mum’s footsteps, working in community health.

Annette is a strong, dignified, big-hearted woman, chief of her people in the village of Verahue, West Guadalcanal.

Their home in the village is exceptional, with running water, solar powered lights and a flushing toilet. They are proud to have purchased a gas fridge for the shop and a generator which provides power at night for the community hall and church.

More than anything else, Annette and Dent saw the ability of their DME Unit to free people from the dirty & poorly paid work of copra production.

The Somas applied for and received a Rural Development Grant to construct and pay for the DME Unit.

Over 1000 nuts are bought every day from 26 certified organic coconut growing farms to produce 60 litres of oil a day. This provides a massive cash injection into the community and spreads the income evenly amongst the people. This is an important cultural requirement in communities with a strong emphasis on sharing and generosity.

Not only do coconut farming families benefit, but Annette and Dent employ 14 people a day, in two shifts, to operate the DME Unit.

The funds from the DME Unit are also injected into other projects like building a kindergarten. Annette and Dent worked hard to educate their own children and now have the opportunity to help the village children with a good education.

The DME Unit is located in Verahue village, West Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands.

Since the Etherington's visit a few years ago, Annette and Dent have now retired from operating the DME Unit.

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