Thursday, March 23, 2017

Regarding village by-laws

Fiji Sun ran an article about Fijian village by-laws in today's paper.  It's good to think about how to make life in a village manageable between modernity and tradition though I hope it will not just be older people imposing their views and restricting youth. I hope it's about teaching respect and how a community functions well.
http://fijisun.com.fj/2017/03/23/shifting-sands-the-challenge-of-reintroducing-village-by-laws/

But there is dissent - Ratuva says it's not a good idea.  In today's Fiji Times:

Ratuva: Village bylaws not good

Margaret Wise
Thursday, March 23, 2017
THE introduction of village bylaws is not a good idea, says New Zealand-based political sociologist Professor Steven Ratuva.
Prof Ratuva said the bylaws were first introduced by British colonialists to separate the iTaukei from indentured labourers.
The result of this "compartmentalisation" of the races had "terrible" consequences on the iTaukei, he said.
The former University of the South Pacific academic made the statements while speaking at the historic International Conference on Indian Indentureship and Girmitiya Descendants at the University of Fiji's Saweni campus in Lautoka yesterday.
He was speaking on the topic "Crossing Paths: Rethinking iTaukei and Girmit relations".
Prof Ratuva said Fijians were over-administered and over-managed during the colonial days.
"Village bylaws is not new," he said.
"Both the Soqosoqo ni Vakavulewa ni Taukei and Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua governments tried to bring it back.
"Now FijiFirst wants to bring it back. The leaders of the iTaukei have been obsessed with this romantic notion from the colonial days that it could solve the problem of crime, solve the problem of mass migration into cities, solve the problem of poverty, discipline and so forth.
"During the colonial days the British put in place these walls and this forced the iTaukei into living subsistence lives.
"It discouraged the iTaukei from getting educated, it discouraged them from the potential to develop, and entrepreneurial skills were undermined.
"Village bylaws were a system of control because it ensured the iTaukei was kept separate from Indo-Fijians.
"It was easier for the British to control and administer two divided communities.
"They governed by 'divide and rule'. They said it was to protect the superior race, to protect the corruption of their culture.
"In fact it protected them against education, commerce and professional advancement.
"In the 1960s when they opened up the Fijian administration and allowed more mobility, the iTaukei realised they were far behind the other ethnic groups.
"So those grievances were rooted in the Fijian administration and some flowed into nationalistic mobilisation, and that as we know caused tension and political instability."
Prof Ratuva said the connection with girmit was interesting.
He said what the iTaukei needed was a system of innovation.



Monday, March 20, 2017

Bua mining dirties river

Told you so. So many people said this would happen but the mine went ahead.

Villagers claim mine spill destroying fishing grounds

Luke Rawalai
Monday, March 20, 2017
PEOPLE in Nasarawaqa, Bua and those living along the Dreketi River claim the decline in marine resources around the area is due to spillage of waste water from the bauxite mining in Naibulu, Dreketi.
Sasake villager Apisalome Tumuri claimed that the spill off from the mine during heavy rain forced marine life out from the area to the deep sea.
The 52-year-old fisherman claims there had been a lot of changes in their fishing ground since mining began in nearby Naibulu, Dreketi.
Mr Tumuri said fish, crabs and bech-de-mer had begun disappearing from their fishing grounds during the past three years. He said in the past, villagers could pick shellfish and fetch mud crabs from nearby mangroves.
He said they now had to go out into the open sea to get these.
Dreketi resident Losana Lomani said the Dreketi River had turned red last week after heavy rain was experienced in the area.
Ms Lomani said they learnt that the muddy water originated from the mining site and that women in the area found it hard to find freshwater mussels in the river.
XINFA Aurum Exploration Fiji Ltd's senior officer Sang Lei said the muddy water witnessed by villagers was normal rain run-off from land.
Mr Lei said all waste water from the mine was contained in the sediment pond at the mine and that none had seeped into the waterways as claimed.
Responding to queries, permanent secretary for Lands and Mineral Resources Ministry Malakai Finau said it was normal for the sea to turn muddy during heavy rain.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Good and bad results in schools

from Fiji Village:  And it is surprising that schools that copped it bad during Cyclone Winston actually did very well in the exam results. And some Suva schools have apparently done poorly.
Teachers will have to change their teaching styles - Prasad
By Dhanjay Deo and Lena Reece
Thursday 16/03/2017


File Photo.
Teachers will have to change their teaching styles to keep students interested during classes.
The President of the Fiji Principals Association Kamlesh Prasad says that teaching methods need to change with time to address the issue of low pass rates.He adds if teachers fail to keep a student engaged during a class then they will continue to face this issue.
Prasad says addressing the issue of low pass rates is part of the reason that the 119th Fiji Principals Association Conference theme is “Excellence Through Inclusive Leadership”.He says that the need for inclusive leadership is to compete and to compete is to be creative and innovative with their teaching methods.
Prasad also hopes that teachers will be committed to diversity to help tackle the issue of low pass rates in examinations.
The Education Ministry has revealed that the pass rate for Mathematics for last year was 36 percent, 42 percent in 2015 and 15 percent in 2014.Chemistry is another subject where low-pass-rates have been recorded.There was only 10 percent pass rate in 2014, 34 percent in 2015 and 49 percent pass rate was recorded for last year.Physics also recorded low pass rate, which was 28 percent in 2014, 57 percent in 2015 and 45 percent last year. 
The Suva-based schools also recorded a very low 36 percent pass rate last year for the Year 12 Exam while it was 58 percent for the Nausori-based schools.
Schools from Ba/Tavua who went through some troubled times during and after Tropical Cyclone Winston recorded 100 percent pass rate last year for the Year 12 Exam while they achieved 86 percent pass rate for the Year 13 Exam.
Table 1
Source: Ministry of Education

Table 2
Source: Ministry of Education

Table 3
e: Ministry of EducationTable 3
Source: Ministry of Education

Sunday, March 12, 2017

A sermon about the blind man

I've been asked to organise a church service when our minister goes on a holiday to China. It's for March 26th so I've got in early and the tasks have been allocated to elders, children, and includes a play.  Here's the draft of the sermon part.  Hey, I haven't preached for years, and then hardly ever. I left that to Talatala Peceli but isa lei he's not with us any more. This is the second draft and I have deleted the first draft which was all over the place.
Sermon Draft for Sunday March 26

The blind man stood by the road and he cried
Oh, show me the way, the way to go home.

BLINDNESS, DARKNESS. SHADOWS

Darkness can be frightening.  When you are in an unfamiliar place and it is pitch black. I remember one time we had to pole across a river and were returning from visiting relatives in a Fijian village, Navuso. It was getting dark, and by the time we reached the other side of the river it was pitch black. Not a single light in sight.  I was with our grand-children Jordan and Andrew, and Andrew said, ‘Don’t worry Grandma, I know the way.’ He was about eight at the time. So I grabbed his hand as we walked down a rough track about 100 metres to reach the road to catch a passing taxi. Show me the way to go home, I was thinking. Anyway at last we saw the wink of lights from a house near the road and my panic ceased.

SHADOWS AND LOW VISION
With low vision such as myopia means to be  able to see your hands, a book, the computer, close up – but can’t see well enough to cross the road.  Can’t tell the difference between a wheelbarrow and a dog in the garden.  We wear spectacles or contact lenses. How many people need and use glasses? Plenty.  Some people even as small children.  Imagine a seven-year-old girl at Swan Hill Primary School. The teacher writes on the blackboard ‘Go home’ and tells the forty children to follow the words. One girl sitting up the front who can read and write well at her desk is the last to leave. She can’t see the board. The teacher realizes that she needs glasses so writes a letter for the girl to take home to her mother. Next week the girl is wearing round glasses  (like Harry Potter’s) but she is amazed at what the world looks like. She wore those awful looking glasses throughout her school years but at least she could see to read, paint, play the piano, climb trees, chase sheep.

Life is very hard for some people with handicaps such as being blind . Imperfect vision in the days of Jesus meant the person was not independent, could not really look after himself or herself, had a limited scope of knowledge of the world, mainly just what he could touch near him. 

The story is in John’s Gospel concerns  a man blind from birth who sits by a pathway near the Pool of Siloam and begs.  People have always told him, -hey you, your blindness was because you are a sinner or your Mum and Dad are sinners. That was the view of the people of that culture. That the cause of disability was what people did.  In the Middle East two thousand years ago the people did not have the scientific knowledge that we take for granted today, that with short-sight – myopia – a pair of spectacles can give 20 20 vision. We  know that blindness is not caused by the sin of the parents or the sin of a person.  It may be caused by living in a place where sand is in the air much of the time. It may be caused by a defect at birth. Or a potential for eye trouble in the DNA. It may be deterioration with aging such as macular degeneration.

But wait.... Jesus puts spit on the eyes of the man begging then tells him to wash in the nearby Pool of Siloam.
The Pool of Siloam is a rock-cut pool on the southern slope of the City of David, the original site of Jerusalem, located outside the walls of the Old City to the southeast. The pool was fed by the waters of the Gihon Spring, carried there by two aqueducts. Other stories of blind men being healed in the other gospels talk of a healing in the town of Jericho. Different.

CHANGE  TRANFORMATION  A NEW W ORLD

The man follows this instruction. The cloudiness disappears and he can actually see.  See people. See his friends.  See the blue sky.  See flowers. He is amazed. This is a miracle. Perfect vision gives the man the ability to have new experiences, to see the river, see the mountain, to be able to move about safely, and of course to see the faces of his family and the face of Jesus.

THE CRITICS

Now the story in the gospel of John goes on.  Friends took the man to the Pharisees as the custom then was to show the Jewish leaders that the man is now normal and cured. The pharisees don’t say – how marvellous, how wonderful at all.  They continue with the old superstition about sins of the parents.  And also -they want to trap Jesus. He has done this healing on the precious Sabbath, day when Jews are not allowed to work at all! Romans could but not Jews. They even ask the parents of the man what had happened, but the parents are careful in their answer knowing that to acknowledge that Jesus does miracles, is dangerous  They say – he’s grown up, ask him yourself, and the man of course says, yes I am cured.

Then the critics replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out.

Spiritual Blindness

The story does not end there.  Jesus meets with the man again.  Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
36 “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.”
37 Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.”
38 Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.
39 Jesus said,[a] “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”
40 Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?”
41 Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.
What does Jesus mean then?  Perhaps he is talking about truth, seeing the truth. The once blind man now sees reality, not only a physical reality of the people in the street, the sky, the donkey walking past, but the reality of knowing who Jesus is. A spiritual relationship, a spiritual reality which the critics do not see.


So there is more to dark and light than physical.  There’s a kind of symbolic meaning in the story. It is not only physical light after darkness, but a spiritual awakening, a new kind of seeing what life is about, that going home for the blind man is not just to his house but it’s to know that he has met the Messiah, that there is a relationship with God.  And Jesus says yes, that’s it.

This is what I believe.  That we are created to be in a relationship with one another, with family, with friends, with community, with our social world, and we are created to be in a relationship with our Creator, God.

SHOW US THE WAY

We are sometimes like that blind man sitting by the road crying out ‘Show me the way.  And like the blind man we continually are curious, we seek answers to questions, especially where am I going to. What is the purpose of my life. Show me the way.

Just as darkness limits our experience of the world, our knowledge, our relationships, to be in the light means knowledge, experience,  an appreciation of beauty, and relationships with people. And Jesus implies that children of the light also have a relationship with our Father God.
As we read in Corinthians:

Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.
The blind man sat by the road and he cried
Oh, show  me the way.

We all sit by the road and we cry
Oh, show me the way.

And the answer:
Jesus says: I am the way, I am the truth, I am the life
And the way to go home,
and our response:
You are the way, You are the truth, You are the life
And the way to go home.

Show me the way to go home
Home is a place where we feel secure, safe, optimistic, in relationships with family and a base for relationships with neighbours and community. But...is the word ‘home’ used here to mean a view of the future after this life – that is - heaven?  That’s how it is used in many hymns of the 19th century. ‘I am coming home’. An old hymn expresses the view that we need God to show us the way in a time of difficulties. We need light in the darkness.  Lead, Kindly Light is a hymn with words written in 1833 by John Henry Newman. Certainly we need guidance in our world that has gone tipsy turvy at times with gross selfishness and violence.
"Lead, Kindly Light, amidst the encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home,
Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.
"Lead, Kindly Light" was sung by Betsie ten Boom, and other women as they were led by the S.S. Guards to the concentration camp Ravensbruck during the Holocaust.
Lead, Kindly Light was sung by a soloist on the Titanic during a hymn-singing gathering led by Rev. Ernest C. Carter, shortly before the ocean liner struck an iceberg on April 14, 1912. Lead, Kindly Light was sung by British troops to the accompaniment of nearby artillery fire during the 1st World War at services held before going into the trenches the following day.
So long Thy power hath blest me, sure it still
Will lead me on.
O'er moor and fen, o'er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone,
And with the morn those angel faces smile,
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile!
Meantime, along the narrow rugged path,
Thyself hast trod,
Lead, Saviour, lead me home in childlike faith,
Home to my God.
To rest forever after earthly strife
In the calm light of everlasting life."

I AM SURE THAT IT MEAN\S A WALK WITH GOD
And a verse from one of my favourite hymns ‘In heavenly love abiding’
2 Wherever he may guide me,
no want shall turn me back;
my Shepherd is beside me,
and nothing can I lack:
his wisdom ever waketh,
his sight is never dim,
he knows the way he taketh,
and I will walk with him.


And in our second reading for today which will be read at the close of today’s service – from Ephesians 5:8-14 New International Version:

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 

Show me the way.   The way to go home.  It is the way of Jesus.  It is to know truth and see what life is really about. No longer living in shadows, of not seeing, of guessing, of limits. Of seeing people in a real way, no longer just thinking of yourself and your needs, but having empathy for other people, kin, friends, networks and eventually to a world view of all people. And, walking with Jesus in that journey.




Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Prayers in a hospital

An intersting point is raised in this article in Fiji Village today. It seems that people are going into hospital wards and praying for patients whether they like it or not. Obviously the question of privacy is an issue and also consent.
Prayer sessions only allowed if requested by patients
By Vijay Narayan
Wednesday 22/02/2017



The Ministry of Health and Medical Services has clarified that prayer sessions are only allowed in hospitals in cases where the patients or the relatives specifically request for spiritual healing.When asked by Fijivillage, the ministry says this is not imposed on anyone and it is only provided based on the request of the patients and their relatives.
However some family members of patients admitted at the CWM Hospital have raised issues regarding patients being prayed over by people coming around the hospital to pray.

A female patient raised concern that a woman just came into the ward and started praying and pressed her painful leg which made matters worse.The patient’s friend had to tell the woman praying to stop as the female patient was in extreme pain.It has been confirmed that the woman did not ask the patient for her permission.

Another father raised an issue that he spent the night with his son at the hospital’s Children’s Ward and a prayer of a particular religious group was broadcast on the PA system. This was done at about 6pm on that day.

Another family has raised the issue that a prayer group wanted to come and pray over a stroke patient.When the family refused, the prayer group started saying that it was not a stroke but the devil was in the patient.

Freedom of religion is guaranteed in the constitution and it is clearly stated that no one should force a particular religion on another person. When asked by Fijivillage, the Health Ministry says that it will look will into this issue as the ministry has a guideline in place in terms of attending to the requests for prayer sessions, which is put forward through the hospital’s Medical Superintendent’s Office.
The office then does the verification in terms of the requests made and also the prayer groups that attend to the requests.

The Health Ministry stresses that patients have every right to refuse any prayer and ward managers are aware of this and patients and relatives are encouraged to liaise with ward managers on this and they often do The ministry says respecting patient privacy and dignity is always of importance and is prioritised in all their hospital services.
-------------------------------
I looked up some websites on protocols for hospital visiting and summarised some points I read.
What are the protocols about visiting sick people and prayer?
Sometimes it can be difficult to visit a patient in the hospital, but you can have a positive influence on them, whether they are your friend, family, church member. Listed below are some simple visitor guidelines.
Do ask your patient's or other family member’s permission to visit before you arrive. If they prefer you not visit, ask them if another day would be better, or if they would prefer you visit once they get home. Many patients love visitors, but some just don't feel up to it.
Do wash your hands and sanitize them before and after you touch the patient.
Only take flowers as long as you know your patient isn't allergic to them, and is in a room by themselves.. If your patient shares a hospital room, the other person may have allergies.
Do consider alternatives to flowers: a card, something a child has made for you give to the patient, a book to read, a crossword puzzle book, are good choices.
Do turn off your cell phone, or at least turn the ringer off.
Do stay for a short time..
Do leave the room if the doctor or provider arrives to examine or talk to the patient.
Do not ask intimate questions about the particular illness, respect the privacy of the patient.
Don't enter the hospital if you have any symptoms that could be contagious.
Don't take young children to visit unless it's absolutely necessary.
Don't take food to your patient unless you know the patient can tolerate it.
Don't expect the patient to entertain you. Your friend or church member is there to heal and get healthy again, not to talk or keep you occupied. It may be better for your patient to sleep or rest than to carry a conversation with you. If you ask them before you visit, gauge their tone of voice as well as the words they use. They may try to be polite, but may prefer solitude instead of a visit.
Do not chat with other visitors and ignore the patient.
Ask the patient if he or she would like you to pray.
Don't stay home, on the other hand, because you assume your friend or church member prefers you to not visit. You won't know until you ask.
--------------------------
Sorry, that looks like a bossy kind of list. Really pastoral visits are different for each situation - a teenage athlete, an elderly woman on sedation, an emotional man terrified of the outcome of surgery, and so on. I'm not a chaplain or nurse, and haven't been a patient in a hospital for 46 years! But I have experienced visitors when bereaved and oh sobosobo some do it well, others do not. I think it's mainly a matter of being sensitive to the needs of the person for re-assurance, for calm, for honesty but most of all to know that God is alongside them so prayer, Bible reading of familiar verses, and especially the texts of favourite songs such as 'In heavenly love abiding' or the Aaronic blessing, all can give comfort. So you don't rattle of stories or prayers, but be in attitude of quietness and reflection. It's a time of emotions rather than preaching.



Looking back - my life as a teacher

My life as a teacher


Looking back on the variety of experiences in different schools and places I realize that there were times of failure as well as positive interaction with teenage students.  Here are some of the memories of those times. I taught mainly art and music, but in Fiji added Scripture, English, History which I energised by writing plays, adding artwork and creative writing.

The first appointment was at Bendigo High School  in an annex with Forms 1,2,3,4 art and some music with a piano.  Forty children to a class was a handful but that was the norm then.  We had adequate material for painting, drawing, even pottery, the latter not successful as we had an ordinary room and clay requires a specific type of room to be able to keep clean and tidy and the school cleaner was not exactly my friend.  Work was done quickly, the students producing many paintings on newsprint, too hurried now I realize.

I went to Fiji in 1962 and taught in a variety of secondary schools, mainly at a Methodist school in Suva called Dudley High School, When we lived in Rakiraki I taught part-time because of giving birth to two little boys by then.  I became an English language teacher there and being the second language of the children they struggled with Shakespeare and so on but we got along well. Peceli was manager of a Methodist Primary School and we both taught Scripture there (unpaid of course) including participating in the celebrations when Fiji became independent in 1970.



Pictures are of view from Dudley teachers' house, Dudley school, view from my two rooms in Toorak, Suva. 
One year, living at Dilkusha when Peceli was part of a team ministry in the Indo-Fijian community, I took the bus to Suva to teach at Dudley – the whole school in stints of half an hour turnover – crazy as this included tie-dying, batik, stencilling, all sorts of things,  and Marist where I taught screen printing in the science room, blunting their precious knives. We had some good excursions those days, taking groups of teenagers down to the Museum or to a graphic art designer’s studio.

We moved to Peceli’s home-town of Labasa in 1972 and I again became a part-time teacher and the Ratawa family helped by looking after George, Robin and Andrew at home. One successful project was screen printing  at All Saints School in Labasa,  making our own printing ink with Dylon dye mixed into the paste made from boiling cassava vegetables.  Our students won all the major prizes in a national art competition so I took a group down to Suva for the prize-giving. I lost interest in teaching there though when a Hindu principal replaced the missionary head of that Anglican school and he was very dismissive of the Christian religion.
When we migrated to Australia we first went to Swan Hill and I got a short-term teaching appointment at Swan Hill Tech.  Art work in schools by then had slowed down to producing more careful, detailed, paced work, and I got stuck into lino-cuts with the students with great equipment and good results.  They were beaut students. I also taught a few students to play the piano as they had a grand piano in the school.

At Hopetoun my career as an art teacher plummeted as I wasn’t given art, but craft, using a redundant metalwork room, still with the Bunsen burners set into the benches. I decided that pottery was not on without a better room and a kiln, so ended up attempting to teach crafts such as metalwork and leatherwork, not very successfully. I wasn’t interested and passionate about it.  By then I was tired of trying to do three jobs – as the wife of a clergyman, a home-maker with three young children and as a teacher so I decided to stay at home, but of course not long after I went back to study off-campus at Deakin University in Geelong.

My life as a student

I can say that I enjoyed being a student always, more than the task of being a  teacher.  The training college years at Prahran Tech,  RMIT, Fine Arts at Melbourne University were three brilliant years, even going out to secondary schools loaded up with teaching aids was fulfilling. Then at Bendigo I spent four evenings a week at Bendigo Tech aiming to fulfil the requirements of Diploma of Art majoring in pottery. Fellow-students were mainly younger or my age – I was 20 when I started there.  It was a joyful time.

Years later, Deakin University in Geelong offered study off-campus so I started one subject called ‘Australian City’ when we lived in Hopetoun. I was lucky to be able to change to on-campus when Peceli was appointed to the East Geelong parish.  We did not only make very large drawings and painting but also photography, life drawing, and so on – all at the old RSL Mill building at the bottom of Pakington Street. To fulfil the requirements of the BA I took the bus out to Waurn Ponds campus to add anthropology and ethnic music subjects which I continued to Masters level. l loved research, the lectures in music, including a stint on Pacific music at Monash, and then I collected songs in a few weeks fieldwork  in Fiji for my thesis. There was no cost then for study – only a small student fee. I was very fortunate to do the MA then.  There were conferences also where I gave a few small lectures and mixed with the elite of the world’s top ethnomusicologists. Hmm. They mainly revamped their early research and were mainly disappointing.

Later I caught the Newcomb bus to many classes at the Gordon TAFE in Geelong, some about IT, working with images on the computer, professional writing and editing, some excellent creative writing classes. The cost was minimal then, so different to the year 2017 for TAFE subjects.  I wrote many poems, short stories, drafts of novels, and edited about ten little books.


Then came the time to stay at home more, examine the untidiness of the home base, start writing without the network of fellow-students, no longer catch the bus every second day.  I miss the interaction with students of various ages and the stimulation of hearing their stories, seeing their artwork. So  now it became just writing on two blogs – Babasiga and Geelong Visual Diary, and also mostly daily updates of trivia on facebook.

Going to school rain or shine

Crossing the river in full uniform these kids are intent on getting to school by crossing a flooded river. Their school books are kept dry inside a pot!  from the Fiji Times:
Luke Rawalai's efforts in writing a piece titled Struggle to school in The Fiji Times (20/02, page 4) did not go unnoticed.


Children of Vatulovona village and Seniwaloa settlement struggle against the current assisted by parents to get to school. Picture: LUKE RAWALAI
Children of Vatulovona village and Seniwaloa settlement struggle against the current assisted by parents to get to school. Picture: LUKE RAWALAI

The picture of the schoolchildren seen smiling and holding hands to support each other to cross the river is an epitome of the many struggles that children in rural areas go through for education.
Despite the strong current and risk to life, the children put on a brave smile as they were pictured.
The picture also reflects the beauty about living in multiracial societies where people are seen to be caring and thoughtful about others.
I am glad the children were supervised closely by their parents who held on to them.
What shocked me was that the primary schoolchildren had to endure wet uniforms and the cold river water.
According to the article, 100 students were unable to go to school after two weeks of constant flooding and parents were cautious about sending their children to school.
If this is true then something has to be done because these children need to attend school daily.
Government is enforcing the importance of children attending school by providing many initiatives.
The parents also claim that they pack their children's stationery in a pot and swim across the river with their children. These parents are risking their lives battling the cold and strong currents to get to the other side.
I hope that the FRA would address the issue with the residents at Vatulovona Village and nearby Seniwaloa settlement and reach an amicable solution.
I have been a victim of not being able to attend school when the Wainikoro River used to flood because we could not use the boat that transported us to school.
This article brought back some of those memories.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Giving birth after heavy rain in Fiji

In the nick of time

Felix Chaudhary
Thursday, February 09, 2017
A 33-year-old woman who bravely swam across a flooded creek and was rescued by police while having contractions, is just glad she was delivered to the Lautoka Hospital "in the nick of time".
Senibuli Tikoimoala was in labour for five hours but her family could not transport her to hospital because of a flooded Irish crossing at Paipai, Lautoka.
"I started having labour pains at 5am and although I had crossed a flooded road, the current at the crossing was too strong," she shared.
"As the pain increased, family members in desperation made an emergency call to 919 and asked police to help transport me to hospital. I was worried and scared.
"When the police arrived, they couldn't bring their vehicle across the flooded creek so there was nothing else to do but swim across.
"When I was in the police car, the officers kept me in high spirits by joking. They kept saying that I had to be strong and that if I gave birth in their car, they would take it upon themselves to name the baby."
The police officers ferried Mrs Tikoimoala to an ambulance that was waiting on the Queens Rd.
"Within minutes of our arrival at the hospital, I gave birth to my beautiful and healthy 4kg baby girl.
"She is my sixth child and our family has decided to name her Vasemaca Naqiri after one of our grandmothers."
Mrs Tikoimoala resides in Tabataba, Ba, but had decided to wait out the latter stages of her pregnancy at her brother's home in Paipai.
Mother and baby are recovering well and eagerly awaiting discharge from the hospital and a warm reunion with family.
"This is one pregnancy that I will never forget because of what I went through to deliver Vasemaca.
"But I thank God for keeping me safe and I also thank police for coming to my aid."

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

A good letter to the editor

Here's a good letter to the Fiji Times this week:

SOCIAL MEDIA

Arvind Mani,Martintar, Nadi | Monday, February 6, 2017
Let's face it. We are living in a digital age, and there is absolutely no going back. One of the biggest influences on society these days in both a positive and negative way is social media. Social media was originally designed to allow people to share interesting facets of their lives with their friends, but it has become so much more. It's how information gets passed around the globe now. In many cases, people first learn about current events through the Twitter or Facebook before hearing about it from conventional news sources. 

We also have come to rely on our technological devices for nearly everything we do. People these days seem as if they can't go anywhere or do anything without their smart phones, tablets, laptops, etc. They need to be in constant contact with others via electronic devices.
But, there is also a downside to being too connected to social media and devices that deliver them. We can become too dependent on them or we can become immune to what we are doing to ourselves in our lives. All of this can have a negative effect on our lives and on society as a whole, how we are being negatively impacted as a society.
Facebook is eating away at your time.
How much time do you spend each day on Facebook or other social media sites? Is it cutting into your productivity? Do you find yourself just wasting time to the point that you don't even know where it went? If the answers are yes, I bet you're not alone.
We've become "Likeaholics."
Speaking of Facebook when you post something, are you doing it just to see how many of your friends give it the proverbial thumbs up. This illustration shows that some people are treating "Likes" on Facebook as if it was a drug they needed to have injected into their bloodstream for them to feel good about themselves. Do you have such low self-esteem that you get depressed if you do not have enough "likes"?
Our devices are ruining intimacy.
Have you and a loved one ever spent time together where both of you are on your smart phones texting, tweeting, Facebooking or surfing other websites instead of communicating with each other? Is society getting to the point where we can't even be intimate with each other without being on our phones or iPads at the same time?
Families aren't spending quality time together.
If a mother is making holiday sweets with her family, what do the kids do?
They're not making sweets with mom. Instead, the children have their faces buried in their own electronic devices.
It used to be that parents used the television to babysit their kids. Now, it's a tablet, phone, laptop or video game that does the job.
We'd rather record someone than help them.
If a man is drowning or is involved in an accident, and is reaching out for help, it is more likely that someone has an iPhone pointed at him and is recording it rather than helping save this man.
In the end, with all of this, we are still killing the planet.
Despite all of our technological gains, we are still polluting Earth to the point that we have a virtual gun pointed at mother nature.
The clueless Trump seems too dumb to realise the disastrous impact of climate change.
It is my fervent hope that he can get some common sense and listen to our prime minister instead of childishly tweeting away with reckless abandon.
As we build bigger cities and pollute more, how much damage can we continue to do without it being fatal for all of us?