Sunday, October 31, 2010

A large bunch of lilies

from w
This morning one of the ladies at East Geelong church gave me a huge bunch of lilies. They'd been in the church for the sad funeral of a member of her family, and then again for this morning's worship. Gosh, what shall I do with them all? Okay, over half were put into a large vase in our loungeroom and the rest I took up to Altona Meadows Fijian church service to put into a vase there. After that I gave them to one of the families to take on to Coburg Uniting Church where the Lau community were to gather after 4 p.m. for their church service, and then I guess someone will take them to their home. Probably the lilies we kept can be divided once again to give to people we meet in the next few days. So recycled lilies they certainly are! Thank you God for the rain and sunshine and for gardens. If you had a kindness shown pass it on - is an old song we sometimes sing.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A casino for Fiji! Gross idea!

from w
I really dislike the idea of a casino in Fiji, even if only for tourists. They are placed where there often greed, crime, and completely different from a Pacific lifestyle of generosity, smiles, and a clean environment. So each time the topic of a possible casino for Fiji, I find that grossly unattractive. Money to alleviate poverty. Come on, come on. Gambling breeds poverty. Listen to advice by people who know what damage casinos and other forms of gambling can do to families. It's easy to say that profits can be shared by owner and government, but it just ain't worth it.
From Fiji fbc.
Fiji casino funds for poverty alleviation
Friday, October 29, 2010

All funds government will earn from the operation of Fiji’s first casino will go towards poverty alleviation says Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama.

Government has invited expressions of interest for the development and operation of the first casino in Fiji. Bainimarama told FBC News that only one licence will be given for the casino operation. He says a number of interested parties have expressed their interest – and will be required to apply for the license. The PM says they are still drafting the appropriate legislation to cover the casino operations. He says only tourists will be allowed to use the Casino.

The Methodist church has told FBC News they will comment on the casino issue once they have studied the proposal.

Report by : Masimeke Latianara
and from CCF
CCF expresses ‘deep reservations’ on plan for Fiji casino
16:42 September 18, 2009Fiji, Pacific Press Releases1 comment
The Citizens’ Constitutional Forum (CCF) expresses deep reservations about the decision by the Interim Government to allow a casino to open in Fiji.

“It is known world over that casinos can have collateral damages. Big time gambling can be a source of addiction leading to financial bankruptcy and irreplaceable loss of much needed family income, which could aggravate rather than resolve poverty,” CCF Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Rev Akuila Yabaki said.

“The opening of any casino would require strict legislation and it would be unfair discrimination to prevent locals from accessing the casino altogether or to place higher regulations on their participation than foreigners,” Rev Yabaki said.

Suitable regulations would need to be in place to ensure that appropriate consideration is given to:

• The impact on social welfare and culture;

• Mismanagement of finances (possible increase in debt and poverty);

• Gambling addictions (and associate problems such as alcohol/drug abuse and depression);

• The location and/or number of casinos should be determined only after a comprehensive impact assessment report is done.

“It should be able to benefit the people of Fiji, including the local economy, and not just visiting tourists and overseas investors and measures need to be in place to address any adverse impact this development might have,“ Rev Yabaki said. “Only one casino should be sufficient for a country like Fiji.”

For further information, contact CCF on ph: 3308379 or fax: 3308380.

Rev Akuila Yabaki
Chief Executive Officer

Citizens’ Constitutional Forum Limited
23 Denison Road, PO Box 12584, Suva, Fiji
Phone: [679] 3308 379 Fax: [679] 3308 380
added on Saturday 30th
from fiji fbc
Hey, I reckon there's more to a casino than just making money for the Fiji government. There's the whole ethical notion about greed, and also winning and losing. Crime, money laundering, lots of things are associated with casinos that should be questioned seriously. The Methodist Church leaders need to pull up their socks and speak up loudly and clearly, not wait for another day, another time.

Tourism sector supports casino
Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Fiji tourism association believes the announcement by government to set up a casino in Fiji would increase visitor arrivals in the country. Association president Dixon Seeto says it will not only attract visitors from the Asian market but increase Fiji’s revenue earnings in the tourism sector. He says Air Pacific’s flight to and from Hong Kong will also feel the effect as more visitor from Hong Kong will be coming to Fiji.

Seeto says government made a smart move by putting in place certain measures to control and protect the locals from negative social impacts that could arise once casino begins operations. The association believes the setting up of a casino in Fiji would also create employment opportunities. He told FBC news that the legislations that would govern the operations of the casino in Fiji would eliminate the gambling problems experienced by other countries that have casinos.

Report by : Maca Lutunauga

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sand, gravel, stones

from w
Yesterday we were at a garden supplies (in Oz) where various kinds of sand, gravel, stones, mulch,bark, is sold. We bought large stones to decorate our garden. When I talked with the owner he said they just can't extract stones etc. from the nearby rivers but have to go about 250 k away. Areas such as rivers are licensed and that's fair enough. So what happens in Fiji? When some people were taking sand by the truckload from Nukutatava beach, and gravel from the nearby hillside, we were astonished and very disturbed and stopped it, though they wouldn't listen the first warning.

From observation, sand in Fiji is taken from sandbars and beaches with a little more than a nod and a handshake - maybe some cash, or kava, and it's ripping the ecology apart. It's quite sinful to damage the environment in this way. That's why when I saw this small article in today's Fiji Media, it made sense to have a body like the NLTB to check up on what's happening with the extraction of sand, gravel, stones, etc.

from Fiji FBC
NLTB warns on license to extract sand
Thursday, October 28, 2010

Landowners should first obtain a license if they want to allow hardware companies to extract sand and gravel from their land for commercial use says the Native Land Trust Board. General Manager Alipate Qetaki says it is illegal to sell sand and gravel for commercial purposes without a license. Qetaki told FBC News that as a trustee of native land the NLTB will scrutinize all dealings regarding the transfer of sand and gravel and those caught without a licence will be penalised. Qetaki says sand and gravel can be taken for building houses or other domestic use but should not be sold unless landowners obtain a licence from the NLTB.

Report by : Sekope Toduadua

Well it beats swimming in the Qawa River!

from w
The Fiji Sun runs soft stories three-quarters of the time, and stories about future planning, dreams and visions that may or may not come to fruition. Hardly journalism. Anyway, here's one that is surprising. A swimming pool for Labasa? Well, that would certainly be better than trying to swimming in the nearby Labasa River or Qawa polluted badly river! The only pool I ever saw in Labasa was at the Grand Eastern Hotel and here is a photo-shopped version of it. It isn't really as big as this! Down the road past Tabia though there's a nice lap pool at Palmea resort, very nice and appreciated by the tourists who stay there.

Public pool revived 10/28/2010
The only public swimming pool in Labasa Town may soon be up and running again.

Six years since the closure of Labasa’s only public swimming pool, major maintenance and upgrade works had started yesterday. The swimming pool, formerly the property of the Labasa Town Council, is now under a 25-year lease term to the Gurbachan Singh Memorial Trust. The people of Labasa can now expect a newly-refurbished look to the leisure park and pool.

Labasa businessman Charan Jeath Singh, who is committed to the development of the North, set up the memorial trust under his late father’s name, Gurbachan Singh. He said in an earlier interview that the core function of this Trust is to upgrade and operate the swimming pool, which has been closed for many years.

Like many others who have a passion to share their profits for rehabilitation and development, Mr Singh said his company plans to reach out to the underprivileged students and community. “The funds that we raise from this activity, the profits from the pool operation and donations from our subsidiary companies will pay for school fees,” Mr Singh said. “We will also offer scholarships to the poor and needy students in 2011.”

Project co-ordinator Rajendra Mani said the community pool project sourced out funds during a fundraising drive at this year’s Vodafone Festival of the Friendly North from August 28 to September 4. Mr Mani said once completed, members of the public could expect the best leisure service.

“We are clearing the compound, the pool and its changing rooms. Later, we will build proper thatched bure shelters and put out barbecue sets, which people can use when they bring their families,” Mr Mani said. “A major upgrade will take place so that people enjoy our services. This is part of our community outreach to the people in Labasa.” National Fire Authority officers also contributed to the clean-up drive at the swimming pool area yesterday. Mr Mani said their (firefighters) presence was a positive and united effort in their work towards community outreach.
And almost buried in the Fiji Times news in the news briefs section is a rather interesting little item - however of significance.
Back to Times

ALL Government ministries, departments and agencies have been informed to resume subscriptions to The Fiji Times. Government had directed those departments to refrain from subscribing to this newspaper in 2009, including placing advertisements. That decision had been rescinded as of yesterday.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Making quilts in Labasa

from w
Nice to hear of more craftwork being made in Labasa. There are many skilled women, even old women, who sew, plait, weave, and make all kinds of craftwork with reeds, leaves, bamboo, cloth. Here is a story of an elderly woman - eighty years old - who makes quilts. Even though we quibble that the Fiji media are writing soft stories nearly all the time, at least there are little stories from Labasa quite often.
From Fiji Sun:
Tamani loves her work 10/27/2010
Age is no barrier for 80-year-old Sokoveti Tamani, who is passionate about sewing and singing. She is the face behind the neatly sewn patch quilts of many designs displayed at the Salvation Army hall in Labasa. For Mrs Tamani, producing the best at anything means hard work, sacrifice, patience and endurance.

Originally from Namuka Village in Bau, Mrs Tamani, who moved to Vanua Levu more than 20 years ago, has made Labasa her home.

Her love for sewing has earned her a trade name in the North where she sells her creations to earn a living. Mrs Tamani, who has seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, says that life must go on despite the daily struggles. “My husband died 15 years ago and I have to fend for myself with the support of my children,” Mrs Tamani said. “Like any other person, I want to be independent. By selling what I sew I am able to provide for my other needs.”

Mrs Tamani is the oldest member of the Home League Women’s Programme, which is administered by the Salvation Army for unemployed women and single mothers. As a business, Mrs Tamani sells a variety of matching pillow cases and bedspreads, cushion covers, patch quilts, to name a few. Even though it takes time to artistically sew the pieces together, the 80-year-old does a great job skilfully.

“I love sewing and singing. Wherever my late husband was posted for work, I would join the local church choir and women’s clubs,” she said. “It is better for women to be involved in income-generating projects rather than staying at home idle. What keeps me fit is my trust and obedience to God. He gives me the strength to do what I am doing and I will not rest until I am too weak to carry on,” she said.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Don't talk, just do it

from w
Peter Drysdale who is the inspiration behind the Koroipita village on the outskirts of Lautoka and funded largely by overseas Rotary Clubs, spoke about the need for hands-on work instead of all the writing of reports and papers on the topic of poverty. Amen to that Peter. How much money in Fiji goes to consultants, 'experts', writers of academic and other papers instead of spending the money on where it's needed, helping the poorer people to have housing, work, education. There are so many talk-fests in Fiji, so many consultants. Maybe someone should write a paper on how much money goes on the 'experts' instead of the ordinary people!
pictures taken at Koroipita village by visiting Rotarians.
From Fiji radio:
Too much poverty reports says Drysdale
Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Too much money and time is spent on measuring, defining and locating poverty says the Vice President of the Lautoka Chamber of Commerce Peter Drysdale. Drysdale was the chief guest at the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty that was observed today at Churchill Park in Lautoka. He says there are several reports that can define the agenda, age and income profiles by race and religion for each squatter settlement in the country. Within a short time - Drysdale says these reports are deemed to be out of date and another survey is launched to formulate poverty eradication policies. While poverty data and analysis is important Drysdale says more should be directed towards actual poverty alleviation projects and less on reports.

School children, representatives of government ministries and the public marched through the city of Lautoka this morning to mark the poverty eradication day which is marked internationally.
and the Fiji papers made several stories out of Peter Drysdale's speech, all of which ought to be the trigger for several pieces of investigative journalism, but alas, they will probably just be left alone. Some good points made, all hands-on and not theoretical.

Soil erosion, floods linked to poverty
Margaret Wise
Friday, October 22, 2010
THE rate of soil erosion in the hills behind western towns were the real causes of poverty, says business executive in Lautoka and community worker Peter Drysdale. He said there was a connection between soil erosion, floods, dry season, crop yields and poverty. "Watch this connection become screamingly obvious to all," he told a gathering in Lautoka to mark International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. "There is not much we can do about climate change. But we can stop the fires and reduce the erosion for future food production, and preserve the forest and the natural beauty of land for tourism."

Mr Drysdale said a study undertaken by JICA in 1998 estimated the soil loss down the Ba river at 6.4 million tonnes and down the Nadi river at 4.2 million tonnes.
"This time, real value and volume terms, our main export is undoubtedly our soil," he said. He said thousands of hectares were rendered useless because soil had disappeared altogether. "Areas like the Vuda back road, Saweni, Wairabetia, Saru, Vaivai, the Nadi and Ba hills and huge areas in Ra are a national disgrace," Mr Drysdale said. "I am not familiar with the Eastern Division but I am told there is severe soil erosion in some agricultural and forestry areas as well."

Mr Drysdale said today the focus was on the state of the sugar mills, prices, the rail system and fertilizer costs ù with the diminishing cane volume blamed on the non-renewal of cane leases and loss of land. "This list is incorrect," he said. "A major cause of reduction in supply is the failure of hill farms where the soil has become so thin that even a modestly dry season means very low yields. A drought year means death to cane."Mr Drysdale said hills deemed too steep for sustainable cultivation could not even cater for pine planting.

Bad plans catch up
Margaret Wise
Friday, October 22, 2010

Fighting poverty ... supporters of Bayly Welfare and Education march on International Day for the Eradication of Poverty in Lautoka as community worker Peter Drsydale talks about the possible causes of poverty in the country. DECADES of unplanned development is now catching up on the economic health of the nation, a leading community worker said as he identified greedy landowners and citizens themselves as possible causes of poverty.

Peter Drysdale said on fair distribution of wealth, while corporate philanthropy was the buzz word, "everyone must pull their weight and solve it". He said developments on the border of western cities were mostly illegal, reducing the value of land and constricting rationale future expansion of towns. The tragedy, he said, was that it was happening in key tourism zones like Nadi and the Coral Coast. "The first design consideration for a proper subdivision is where to send the sewerage and how to treat it," he said. "We are condemning future generations to enormous costs burdens when we try to retrofit sewage systems in these areas. Government has been trying to improve the effectiveness of the Rural Local Authority, but some people in these areas are out of control, there is a huge backlog of problems to tackle. They should not hesitate to charge offenders. Let the courts send a signal that we need planned development, not chaos."

Mr Drysdale said the earthquakes in Christchurch and Haiti should serve as lessons.
"If we allow buildings to be erected that are not properly designed to cyclone and quake standards, then one day we will be starting all over again. "Haiti is in ruins. In Christchurch the modern buildings are still standing. In Fiji I worry about the standard of concrete being used. We tend to use dirty and rounded river gravel and undersized reinforcing rods. There is a very poor understanding of the proper mix and curing process. This should be taught in schools if we are building our nation in concrete."

Mr Drysdale said the word "sustainable" was inserted into speeches to sound respectable but he wondered if the speakers could define precisely what it meant in the context of their speech. "Let me be blunt ù most of the agricultural forestry practice I see today, especially on hilly land, is definitely unsustainable. I know nothing about the sea, but I suspect there are big problems out there too," he said.

From Fiji Sun
Talk and take
DO poor people need religion or are they poor because of religion? Community worker Peter Drsydale believes while church work is important, too many preachers only "talk and take". He said people should be free to choose who and what they subscribe to for physical and psychological help. The poor, he said, were vulnerable and in some cases may be paying too much for too little.

Air pollution
WE import the worst western cultures. Peter Drysdale said the public was bombarded by advertisements on food and drinks, targeting children, thus increasing the incidence of diabetes and other NCDs. He said the news content kept people "in the dark" about world affairs "and so we do not learn from other countries' mistakes". Radio stations, he added, feed the nation with junk music and are guilty of air pollution.

Market co-ops
MR Drysdale has warned that as people start buying vegetables from supermarkets, this will in the long term cause traditional markets to decline. The concentration of selling power will be in the hands of a few, at the expense of the farmers, he said. The solution, he said, should be in independent market co-operatives ù not just in selling produce but owning supermarkets as well.

And the Qawa River is still polluted by the millers

from w
Not only is the Labasa Sugar Mill at fault in the way the Qawa River continues to be polluted and the life for those who live nearby degraded, but all the mills seem to be in trouble. This is a shameful situation. The farmers work their guts out in producing the cane, at little profit, and then the mills break down, are in disrepair, and can't even fulfill their obligations for sales. Wake up, have some pride, get things better.
From Fiji Village this evening:
Mill upgrade program failed to deliver
Publish date/time: 20/10/2010 [17:10]

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The major sugar mill upgrade that started prior to 2006 through the $86 million loan from the EXIM Bank of India has not delivered the desired results, and has caused a number of major problems.

It was termed as a saviour of the sugar industry in 2004 with high hopes that the major cash input would assist the industry to bounce back.

Now it has been confirmed that some of the equipment purchased through this multi-million dollar loan are not working and the Indian experts who came to work on the upgrade also at times did not carry out the work as expected.

Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama said this issue has been discussed with the Fiji Sugar Corporation during a presentation by FSC Acting CEO John Prasad last week.

We asked Commodore Bainimarama what can be done now that the $86 million has been spent and the experts who were supposed to upgrade the mills to modern standards have left.

He said they have now established that there was no proper legal input when these upgrade contracts were drawn up prior to 2006.

Although many people have been talking about the $86 million mill upgrade, the reality on the ground is that one of the mills that the Prime Minister visited last week looks like a junkyard.

According to him, there are a lot of breakdowns at the Lautoka Mill. He said everything is leaking around and some new machines installed by the Indian company have not worked from when they were put in.

Story by: Vijay Narayan

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Somewhere over the rainbow

from w
Yesterday we saw a wonderful rainbow after visiting a Lauan/Gau family in Wyndam Vale out of Melbourne and I connected this with something I read in Fiji Village about Fiji migration to New Zealand and Australia. Why? Some people ask us that question - why leave a paradise for our hectic Australian city life? There are numerous possible answers of course and the reasons for out-migration are many and varied.
17,323 Fijians migrated from Fiji
Publish date/time: 15/10/2010 [07:36]

A total of 17,323 Fijians have migrated from Fiji from the year 2007 to May this year. According to the latest statistics released by the Bureau of Statistics, 4949 people left our shores to settle in another country in 2007. In the year 2008, 5391 Fijians migrated while in 2009, 5022 people migrated. For 2010, upto May one thousand 961 people have left Fiji to settle in another country.

The largest number of people who are migrating are professional workers followed by people in other occupation.

Meanwhile the Bureau of Statistics has also revealed increasing number of Fijians going for holidays and visiting friends and relatives overseas.

The number of people visiting friends and relatives increased by almost 3000 in 2009 bringing the total number of people to 37,211.

More than seven thousand people each year also go for education and training overseas.
Story by: Vijay Narayan

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Melbourne Fijians party for Fiji Day

The original posting got wiped accidentally with a couple of wrong clicks when I wanted to edit it - anyway here are a few other photos from the Fiji Fashion Parade held in Melbourne on Fiji Day this year. Lots of great photos are on Facebook by two of the Fiji ladies.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Connections with Baker Hall

Vulitalatala students in the late 50s at Davuilevu.
from w
Peceli and I have many connections with Baker Hall in Davuilevu. I taught Class Seven and Eight art there one time - part of Lelean Memorial School. And of course Peceli studied to be a talatala at Davuilevu.One MYF camp - which were annual events for young people at Davuilevu - I painted a backdrop for a play about Thomas Baker. At the time Peceli was a talatala in Naikoro, Navosa so the Thomas Baker stories relate to the villages there.

So when I read about the centenary of Baker Hall, I wished that we could be there this week. An interesting feature of this week is a trek across Viti Levu as reported in today's Fiji Times.

Trek in the footsteps of Thomas Baker
Tuesday, October 12, 2010

MORE than 40 young men took a trip down memory lane and re-traced the steps of Thomas Baker on his fateful mission to spread the gospel.Davuilevu Division superintendent Reverend Malakai Curulala said the group left Mission House, which was the home of Reverend Thomas Baker, located on the slope of Dilkusha Home, before he left on the fateful trek to Navatusila in Navosa.Called in the footsteps of Thomas Baker, the trekkers will spent the night at all the villages Reverend Thomas visited before he and eight others reached Navatusila.

"There were supposed to be 30 of them leaving," he said. "On the morning they were to depart there were 41. Many young men at the villages they stayed in joined them on the walk so there are more than 50 of them now and the number keeps increasing. They reached Nadrau on Saturday evening and will spend tonight (Monday) at Navatusila." Mr Curulala said a truck would transport the trekkers to Nausori tomorrow. "At the farewell ceremony in Navatusila tonight they will light a torch, which they will bring back with them," he said. "They will return via the Queen's Road where they will spend tomorrow night at Naselai or Lotu Village. At 8am on Wednesday, they will meet us in Nausori for the march. The torch will be brought to Davuilevu."

Gold for Samoa at Delhi

from w
We have been watching many events from Delhi Commonwealth Games even though Fiji is absent but it's a bonus when we see some Pacific Islander doing well, such as the Samoan brother and sister weightlifters. Congratulations to you both. If Fiji can't be there, at least Samoa can!

Weightlifting: Siblings bring home gold for Samoa
By David Leggat
5:30 AM Tuesday Oct 12, 2010Ele Opeloge and her brother Niusila Opeloge won back-to-back golds in weightlifting for Samoa. Photo / Brett Phibbs

NEW DELHI - It was a case of the golden Opeloges at the weightlifting arena yesterday. Brother and sister Niusila and Ele Opeloge won back-to-back gold medals, cheered on by other family members. There will have been celebrations in Auckland and in Vaoala, in Samoa. There are family in Auckland, although the pair still live on the Pacific island.

Ele Opeloge - at 25, five years younger than her brother - was fourth at the Beijing Olympics and an overwhelming favourite yesterday. She did not disappoint, cranking out Games records in the snatch, clean and jerk and with her total 285kg, 30kg ahead of Nigerian Maryam Usman.

"There is pressure but I don't feel too much," she said. "When I go to lift I think, 'I'm strong.' My mind says, 'I think I can do it.' If my mind is strong then I'm good and my lift should be good."

Niusila Opeloge was favourite in the men's 105kg division and won well, although not without a scare. Opeloge failed with his first two attempts at the snatch at 147kg before making it on the final attempt. Had he missed he would have joined younger brother Tovia in dropping out of the competition. He eventually won with a total 338kg, four ahead of New Zealand silver medallist Stanislav Chalaev.

"I was really nervous," Opeloge said of his must-make final snatch attempt. "I never miss a lift. So I thank God he gave me the strength and focus to get my last lift."

Weightlifting is a family affair. Five Opeloges have been lifting at the Games - the others being brother Petunu and sister Mary - and yesterday's golds give Samoa three altogether after Faavae Faauliuli won the 94kg class at the weekend.

They are Samoa's first Games gold medallists and there is a hope that they can provide inspiration for future aspiring lifters in the island nation.

"It's good for Samoa and for other girls coming up," softly spoken Ele Opeloge, 25, said. "I want more girls to try weightlifting." As the highest-ranked lifter across all Games divisions, she has the London Olympics in her sights in 2012. "I'm going back to Samoa to train very hard because I want to do well," she said. "It's very good for me to have my family support."

The pair are heading to New Zealand for a family reunion before returning to Vaoala and training.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Practical Christians of Dudley

from w
It was good to read about the youth of Dudley Church in Suva being practical in helping other people. Way to go. Better than all the words.
from the Fiji Times.

The Evergreen and Project Green

Thursday, October 07, 2010

ON Saturday afternoon (Sat 2/10/10) members of the Dudley Methodist Youth Fellowship and I visited the Nanuku Squatter Settlement in Vatuwaqa, Suva to distribute baigan (eggplant) and chilli potted plants in phase one of their Project Green. Project Green aims to encourage those in the Nanuku settlement to plant their own vegetables as most residents live impoverished lives. The Dudley Methodist Circuit has a small church there and runs a scholarship programme and food bank to support the community.

Project Green started as an initiative to get the Dudley Methodist Youth Fellowship involved in more community-based work as part of putting their faith into action. I am all for singing gospel praise and worship choruses, bible studies and quizzes and fun-nights but there is more to being a Christian than that. Being a Christian involves us going out beyond the four walls of our churches and out of our comfort zones, where we confront not only the reality of the suffering of those less fortunate then ourselves but our attitudes towards them.

The concept of "pot-planting" vegetables is the brainchild of Rev. William Lucas, Divisional Superintendent of the Indian Division and Culture of the Dudley Methodist Circuit. Rev. Lucas, who grew up in Navua comes from a farming background found himself involved in rice farming, which meant being knee deep in wet grassland, planting, milking cows as a child. During his stationing at Sigatoka, he used to encourage those in the rural farming community to plant their own crops in order to make use of the land available to them, giving encouragement and advise whenever he was on a visitation.

Now stationed in Suva, Rev. Lucas has turned his backyard into a small vegetable plantation, with round cabbage, lettuce, eggplant, long-bean, Chinese cabbage, tomato, pumpkin plants. While this is an excellent idea and something that the Methodist Church has tried to inculcate in its student ministers at Davuilevu Theological College, Rev .Lucas had more than supplying his family and grateful neighbours with fresh veggies in mind. His aim is to encourage as many people as possible, especially those living the poverty line to plant their own fruits and vegetables in whatever land they have available to them.

For some this may mean flowers sharing space with vegetables in residential gardens, for others small urban neighbourhoods setting aside pieces of land for communal plantations. However for the community in Nanuku, neither option is possible as what little land is available is not suitable for planting due to the high salt content in the water from the swamp.

Rev. Lucas suggested to our youth group to collected recycled paint tins, bottles, cans, cracked buckets and once the group had enough, they spent an afternoon at the Minister's residence, fill them with soil and planting the 30 eggplant, chilli and tomato seedlings. "Project Green" is an experiment of sorts. It is not a hand out, it is a form of "green-spiration". The residents at Nanuku who have received the potted-vegetables must nurture them. They have been challenged to follow the example and plant their own. They will also be called to share the results with their neighbours and encourage others to do the same. I understand that in this current age of political (or non-political) correctness, it may seem insensitive to use the term squatter instead of the now-accepted "informal settlement", but a visit to Nanuku where our brothers and sisters live on land that is reclaimed mangrove swamp or tiri and where one has to carefully navigate old tyres laid down to created safe paths to the sparse homes that are built, sometimes overnight, over the tiri reminds us of the precarious situation that residents of Nanuku live in. Many of us may not be comfortable with the word "squatter", with the lack of dignity that "squatters" may suffer. But perhaps it is important to feel uncomfortable, to be reminded that many people in our world, in our country continue to suffer structural oppression.

I sensed the "eye-opening discomfort" of our young people as they struggled to maintain their balance while walking on the tires, as their wrinkled their noses at the smell of the swamp, as they saw for themselves the conditions their fellow church members lived in. I saw understanding dawn on them as they witnessed the joy with which residents received the potted seedlings; the humility they experienced when they received gratitude from those they were helping through a project they may have grudgingly gotten involved in.

There is a lesson in this project that goes beyond merely feeding the hungry. It is in allowing yourself to be used as an instrument of the greater good, that you receive the most benefit - the joy of fulfilling your responsibility in the web of life.

"Be Still, Stand in Love, Pay Attention."

* Reverend J.S. Bhagwan is a member of the Faculty at Davuilevu Theological College and the Associate Minister of Dudley Methodist Circuit in Suva.

Friday, October 08, 2010

For all the saints and Fiji Day

from w
This week they are talking a lot about an Australian lady, Mary McKillop, and the idea that she is a saint, well I think there are many sweet-tempered but energetic women in Fiji that fulfill the role of a modern-day saint. Don't blush Olivia, but you are a lovely lady! One day we climbed up the steps at Dilkusha and talked with Olivia on the verandah, overlooking Dilkusha Church and the new bridge. Her hospitality and stories at that time took us back many years to our numerous visits to Dilkusha, especially the year we lived at Shantinwas down below the hillside.

from the Fiji Times today:

A good leader loves, commits, dedicates
Geraldine Panapasa
Saturday, October 09, 2010
BEING a good leader requires commitment, dedication and love, says Deaconess Olovia Nataniela, head of the orphanage, Dilkusha Children's Home, in Nausori. She first set foot in Dilkusha after she joined the Deaconess Order in the Methodist Church of Fiji and Rotuma in 1967 where she had to complete a one-month practical training. Deaconess Olovia was appointed to Dilkusha in 1987 and has since dedicated her life to the underprivileged children of the home. Widely known and recognised for her selfless love and care for the children, Deaconess Olovia says leadership requires humble qualities.

"For me, it was the upbringing from home, my little island of Rotuma, where I learned and felt the love within the family," she said. "Love in the home is very important. What I've learnt from faith and my upbringing has made the person I am today. In terms of leadership, I think there are many challenges and responsibilities that come with it. I believe a good leader is someone who is constantly committed and believes in what they are doing. You have to possess these qualities in your heart, commit yourself and love what you are doing," Deaconess Olovia said.

She said the children of the home had always been her main priority and concern. "In the morning before the children go to school, I must sit with them and pray for them before they go," she said."I believe that education for children is very important."

Originally from Motusa in Rotuma, Deaconess Olovia was brought up by her grandmother. She said the virtues and values instilled in her early life made her the woman she is today. "Growing up, I never thought I'd be a leader but what I have learnt is from my faith in God and his love. When people ask me how I came to know God, I tell them it was through my upbringing in Rotuma," Deaconess Olovia said. "The support and people I meet that come to the home, I've also learnt from them. We cannot be a good leader on our own. I wish all the leaders of the country all the best." Deaconess Olovia continues to be mother and father to about 28 children at the home.

Fiji Geelong Friendship Club

from w
Instead of driving up to Melbourne for one of the Fiji Day gigs today - (rugby sevens, a fashion parade etc.) our little group the Fiji Geelong Friendship Club met last night at our home for kava, dinner, talanoa and some music. Fiji people, Tongans, Aussies, including four talatalas - Peceli, Christine, Latu, Tevita - or feifekau I think it is in Tongan. There were plenty of people from Levuka as well as Labasa so that was a bonus! Thank you to the barbecue cooks and others who contributed to a successful gathering. Here are some photos, though some people somehow got left out of the frame. Not everyone was interested in kava and music - one little girl got seriously into drawing - and that's good!

Independence Document Missing

from w
Fiji Radio put an interesting item online today about the legal document of Fiji's independence. No-one can find the 'original copy'! So is the original in England and Fiji was only given a copy in the first place? Anyway the celebration this weekend is rather a mixed bag of memories - Cession Day it was once called when Fiji was annexed in 1874, then Independence in 1970, forty years ago, then if I remember rightly it was called Republic Day for a time. Certainly there are plenty of contradictions in this day's celebrations. And, of course, it's raining on their parade today, or was it cancelled?a picture I saw on Matavuvale taken on 8th October.

We are having a little party here tonight in our home - maybe twenty people - to reflect upon Fiji's history and our own lives, as well as drink some kava and have some delicious Pacific food plus a barbecue. Tomorrow there are functions in Melbourne - two venues for rugby etc. and a fashion parade in the evening.

Fiji Independence document missing
Friday, October 08, 2010

The original copy of the legal document of Fiji’s independence - which was presented by Prince Charles to the Fiji government on the 10th of October 1970 is still not found. Government archivist Salesia Ikaniwai told FBC News they have been searching for this important document for over five years – without success. Ikaniwai says they have tracked down all the places the document may have been kept, and have contacted various government departments to try to locate it. She says the missing document contains the Independence Order, which sets the basis for Fiji’s first ever Constitution. Ikaniwai says they had to contact the International Resources Centre in England to get a photocopy of Fiji’s Independence Order.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Isa, good luck Netani

photo from 'The Australian' newspaper today.

from w
I just read in today's Fiji Times that Netani Rika has resigned as editor of the Fiji Times. Isa, good luck for the future Netani.Some Australian papers are running the story also. Maybe the new editor, Fred Wesley will fill the paper with entertaining stories about Navosa! No political clout.
Times Editor resigns
Tuesday, October 05, 2010
DALLAS Swinstead, publisher of The Fiji Times, has announced that Sunday Times editor Fred Wesley has been appointed acting editor-in-chief of the group following the resignation of Netani Rika. He will assume editorial responsibilities for The Fiji Times, The Sunday Times, Nai Lalakai and Shanti Dut.

Mr Wesley has been the editor of The Sunday Times for three years. Mr Rika's resignation was described by himself as "something of a sacrifice" for the good of the company, recently purchased by the Motibhai Group, following News Limited's forced sale.

He acknowledged that while he was seen to be anti-Government by some sections of the community, he had always tried to be an editor who put Fiji's future above everything else.

Dallas Swinstead noted: "Netani's journalistic life has taken him from a copy boy to the editorship of Fiji's national newspaper during some of the nation's most turbulent times in history." Few journalists can claim that honour, especially under the tenure of perhaps the world's biggest newspaper company, News Ltd.

"I know from my own experiences that one is bound to make friends and enemies along the way but that's the life of an editor. And the best editors know when it's time to move on."

The Commonwealth

from w
With the Commonwealth Games in full swing and good luck to all the athletes from a disparate lot of countries, I am just wondering what is this 'Common-wealth' and where it is going. These are some rambling thoughts and grabs from the internet. I'll rewrite this later after I do the breakfast dishes!What is the value? With the history of British imperialism, exploitation of resources, a point of view that expects the British to be rulers over a variety of indigenous peoples, sending criminals and never-do-wells to the far corners, slavery. There's a bad history behind the colonial story. Okay there's been some altruism, some aid, some development, some grants, some co-operation.

But, is there a value in being part of this disparate group of nations in these modern days? Certainly the Commonwealth Games is a wonderful event for young people to experience meeting with strangers-becoming-friends from many different parts of the world linked by British colonial history.

And what about the teenage kid in the corner writing out a thousand times, I must be on my best behaviour at all times! They certainly picked on little Fiji while barely casting an eye on many countries with serious human rights abuses. Fiji left in 1987; rejoined in 1997; suspended on 6 June 2000; suspension lifted on 20 December 2001;[34] again suspended in 2006 because of the 2006 Fijian coup d'état.
Here are a few grabs from internet resources:

The modern Commonwealth has come a long way since it was ''invented'' in April 1949 to replace the original ''British'' Commonwealth of The United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Its members reflect every region, religion and race on the globe. Critics allege that the Commonwealth is a colonial relic, a neo-imperial conspiracy and nothing but ''a collection of not very important states brought together by accident of having been colonised by Britain''. Others claim that it is a toothless (originally British) bulldog and a mere talking shop which has helped Britain to slowly come to terms with its loss of empire.

The Commonwealth is also accused of failing to effectively discipline members who fail to apply the principles of human rights and good governance which underpin the organisation.

Supporters, meanwhile, hold the organisation up as a British ''foreign policy success story'' and cite the queue of prospective members as evidence of its vibrancy and continuing relevance.

Without it, they argue, many impoverished small states (who make up the majority of its membership) would find it difficult to network and build strategic alliances in the competitive modern world.

It is also said to be a important simply because it a ''decent club...which confers a sense of more no less.''

What do you think? Is the Commonwealth a pointless neo-colonial talking shop that achieves nothing in the world today? What if any role do you think it plays< Would the world be a worse place without it? Do you have ideas on how it should change? Should the British monarch, for example, still head the organisation?

The Commonwealth has developed a 21st-century role – as a haven for serial human rights abusers
by Tom Porteous, London director Published in: The Guardian (UK)
November 24, 2009

What's the point of the Commonwealth? Every two years the question comes around in the run-up to the Commonwealth heads of government meeting. Then everyone goes home and forgets about it until the next one.

Starved of cash and political attention, the Commonwealth becomes ever more marginal. Even the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office hardly mentions it in major foreign policy pronouncements.

But is the Commonwealth redundant? Or is it, as Lord Howell, a Tory former chair of the foreign affairs committee, said recently, an "ideal soft power network" for the multipolar world?

The answer depends on whether the Commonwealth can muster the collective political will to uphold its core values of political freedom and respect for human rights. In the past it has punished errant members: apartheid South Africa was excluded; Nigeria was suspended in 1995 after the execution of Ken Saro Wiwa; Pakistan was suspended after General Musharraf's coup d'etat in 1999, and again in 2007; Zimbabwe was suspended in 2002, and withdrew from the organisation the following year.
However, in recent years the collective political will of Commonwealth members to promote human rights has all but evaporated. Only the tiny Pacific nation of Fiji, suspended following a coup in 2006. Its secretariat fails to push or fund its human rights unit as a viable mechanism to encourage its members to comply with international standards; neither the secretary-general nor the diplomats of leading member states make a serious effort to get the Commonwealth to act collectively at the UN and elsewhere to champion human rights.

Over the past six years, the Sri Lankan government - presiding over serious violations of the laws of war and a vicious assault on its critics - has even sat on the Commonwealth ministerial action group, responsible for enforcing members' compliance with the Commonwealth's core values. There could be no better symbol of its failure to protect human rights and political freedoms.

Pakistan and Bangladesh, with a nod from London and Washington, use the real threat of terrorism to justify abuses such as torture and illegal detention. Kenya deliberately avoids accountability for serious abuses during the post-election violence in 2007. Cameroon, Uganda and the Gambia intimidate human rights defenders and journalists...

If the Commonwealth is to become relevant in the 21st century, it must set itself in opposition to the gathering forces of intolerance and authoritarianism. As a global, multifaith, multiracial network of genuinely rights-respecting states, the Commonwealth could be a powerful symbol of the universality of human rights and a champion of their protection. But that means first engaging constructively with its own members on their shortcomings, taking strong action against serial abusers, and refusing to accept new members unless they are genuinely committed to human rights and democracy.