Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sweet and sour in Labasa

from w
Painting murals in Labasa is a new thing, and a great idea. A band of youth got together to paint the world in a children's park - way to go.
Teens on world mission
Theresa Ralogaivau
Friday, January 15, 2010We are the world ... the youths of Labasa painted this mural during the school holidays
A WORLD mural brought together a band of Labasa teenagers who had a lot of time on their hands and very little to do during the school holidays. As the mural took shape, the boys bonded and formed strong friendships. Painting the town's first ever mural also fostered in them a community spirit and opened their eyes and their minds to the world that they live in.

Peace Corp volunteer Monte Shalett said the mural took a month to complete.

"We involved a group of youths from the primary to the secondary school level, wanting them to be part of something productive during the school break," he said yesterday. We consulted with school teachers and discovered that geography knowledge was an area that was lacking so we knew painting the world map would be a good idea."

The mural, painted on the walls of a building beside the children's park, is an eye grabber.

"This would be a way for children who come to the park to learn about world geography, and know about the world beyond Fiji," Mr Shalett said. "Aside from this, the lessons the boys who painted the mural have learnt is to be productive with their spare time and to give back to the community.

"If they learn this from their early age, it will be something they will carry through in life." Mr Shalett said yesterday plans were already in place for other murals to be painted around Labasa town, but involving a larger number of youths. The new school year begins in the last week of January.

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However not everything is sweet, there's a sour note with a story about the beating of a girl because she dressed in cargo pants and not a skirt! Come on, it's 2010!
Bashed for wearing pants
THERESA RALOGAIVAU
Friday, January 15, 2010
Clothes gone wrong ... Asenaca Vunibola, right, with her father Tui and mother Sala after her traumatic experience at Naqai outside Labasa yesterday.
A 16-YEAR-OLD girl is in shock after she was punched and beaten with a stick by her village headman for wearing a singlet and three-quarter pants.

But police in the Northern Division yesterday backed the girl's right not be assaulted over the clothes she wore.

The incident happened at midday yesterday at Naqai Village, about four kilometres outside Labasa.

The police confirmed Asenaca Vunibola was leaving the village for town with her mother when the headman, Naisa Tagiwavoli, confronted her.

Children playing nearby confirmed witnessing Mr Tagiwavoli assault Ms Vunibola with a stick as she lay on the ground trying to ward off the blows.

Mr Tagiwavoli admitted to the Fiji Times he beat the girl, saying she had broken the village dress code for females and had "talked back" at him.

"I also did that to teach her a lesson because, as daughter of the turaga ni Yavusa of Naqai, who is my elder brother, she couldn't be breaking the law while other girls were abiding by it," Mr Tagiwavoli said.

"There are village laws that have been approved by the police and the provincial council and these must be respected."

But police spokesman Sergeant Suliano Tevita said the headman had no legal authority to beat up anyone to enforce village laws.

Ms Vunibola, who suffered bruises, said she was shocked when her uncle pounced on her as her mother Sala stood helplessly by.

"I can't believe I was beaten up over what I was wearing," she said. "He slapped me and punched me in the back before hitting me with a stick.

"Times have changed and they are trying to enforce the traditional way of dressing which is hard for the young generation to accept."

Ms Vunibola's father, Tui Vunibola, said he accepted there were village laws to be respected and followed but that did not mean assaulting people to enforce them.

"There are avenues that can be followed and what he did was just unacceptable," Mr Vunibola said.

Ms Vunibola was taken to Labasa Hospital for a medical examination and treatment.

Village elder Vilikesa Raitiqa said women were forbidden to wear pants, vests or sleeveless tops in public. "And yet women break these laws, so they need to be enforced," he said."What they wear outside the village is their business."

The police are monitoring developments in the village as tensions flare over the issue. Last week, Labasa police also looked into complaints that police officers were dictating to residents the kind of clothes to wear. In response, Inspector Atu Sokomuri said the police had no role in deciding what people wore.

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