Monday, July 29, 2013

Should Fijian women drink kava?

from w
There’s quite a contradiction here – either women stand up for their rights,  or the village laws ban women from drinking kava – meaning women’s place is in the kitchen and looking after the children instead of sitting around drinking kava and socializing.  Women do not make the decision but the men say so. There’s no talk of moderation, just a ban.  This is in some villages in Cakaudrove and Macuata.

Stand up for your rights PM urges women

Fiji Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama has encouraged women to stand up for their rights and be empowered. “We need to make them more aware of their own importance in their families and communities. They are the backbones of their communities,” Bainimarama said. “Too many men in Fiji still think it’s their right to demean and mistreat women. Domestic violence is still a major problem.  And far too many women are exploited.” “Women are generally regarded as someone only to do the cooking and look after the children. We can never be an equal and fair society if even a single Fijian woman is discriminated against.” Bainimarama said government has introduced a raft of new laws to promote gender equality and also the first domestic violence laws. “We have strengthened the rights of the women in this country who live in “de facto” relationships.” “We have removed the old Victorian rules for corroboration for rape. Our criminal laws are modern and gender neutral.” He said they are still working hard to modernise all laws to make sure they reflect equality between men and women. Bainimarama was in Mau, Namosi yesterday to open the new Women’s Resource Centre for Seaweed. By Mereani Gonedua

Read more at:
Copyright 2013 © Fijilive.comFiji

From Fiji Times
Ministry says grog ban on women is a policy
Salaseini Moceiwai
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
THE decision by elders in some villages up North to ban women from drinking grog can be regarded as a village policy instead of a bylaw.
Responding to questions sent by this newspaper yesterday on how some women in Cakaudrove and Macuata have been banned from consuming grog, iTaukei Affairs Board deputy CEO Colonel Apakuki Kurusiga said the decision by the village elders could only be considered as a village policy.
"The proposed village bylaw has not been gazetted as it is undergoing a review once again but the elders' decision can be regarded as a village policy to prevent women from drinking grog because of some unfamiliar occurrence that may have happened in the village," Col. Kurusiga said.
"The village policy is only exercised and effective within that village and to the members of the village.
"It is not effective in other villages that still permit their members to drink yaqona.
"This is similar to some protestant churches that ban their members from drinking yaqona."
Some villages in Cakaudrove and Macuata have banned women from drinking grog for the purpose of helping them to wholly dedicate themselves towards the welfare of their families.
Baleyaganiga Village headman Jekope Matanamatua earlier said the village law of not allowing women to drink grog was not to discriminate them but to ensure that children were looked after well by their mothers.
For Seavaci Village, the decision was discussed in the village meeting and was accepted by the women.
Turaga ni yavusa Ravinivatu Motekai Soidroka told this newspaper women could only drink grog in their own homes but not in the village hall.
He said they did not allow women to drink grog during village functions or at the hall but they could do so in their own homes.
 From Wikipedia

In Fiji, kava (also called "grog" or "yaqona") is part of the fabric of life, drunk day or night, at home or in the village hall. The consumption of the drink is a form of welcome and figures in important socio-political events. Both sexes drink kava, with women consuming the beverage more than men. The importance of kava in Fiji is not so much in the physical as it is psychological, serving as a forum where stories are told and jokes exchanged. Part of this communal aspect is its role in conflict resolution, functioning as a peace pipe between quarrelling groups.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Birds in Dreketi disappearing

from w
It's not surprising to read that the bird-life in Macuata has changed because of de-forestation. Doves, parrots and others. Probably ra qiqi, the special bird of the forest.  A story in the Fiji Times discusses the problem and that the people of Nabavatu want to replant their indigenous trees after too much clearning.

Song of the hills
Theresa Fox
Sunday, July 28, 2013

From the rich green velvety depths of the hillside sprang forth the most joyous music, as the Vaga chorused with the ruve, the kula, the kikau and other singers of the forest in a sweet orchestra.
Every morning and evening, Nabavatu Village was serenaded with these melodies, a delight for villagers who often sought out the vaga or the parrot, which by all accounts was a special occupant of the mountains with her brightly coloured plumes and special "talking" ability.
But that was 40 years ago. These days the village is oddly silent. The threadbare forest is quiet for the musical inhabitants of the hills have disappeared.
Nabavatu Village within Dreketi District in Macuata Province is located 120 kilometres west of Labasa Town, fringing the border with Bua province.
This chiefly village is home to the Vunivalu Dreketi, traditional leader of Nabavatu, Nakanacagi, Vunisea, Nasigasiga and Nabiti within the Dreketi district in Macuata.
It's situated on a rocky hillside overlooking the deepest river in Fiji, the Dreketi River.
Fifty-nine-year-old Esala Tawake, the village headman said they guessed the disappearance of these birds may be linked to the massive clearing of forests for farming.
"They lost their homes so they left," he said.
"There are four clans from three villages that use the hills for farming root-crops and yaqona (kava) so that comes to as many as 400 farmers so there is a lot of farming activity that has happened.
"Whenever one villager decided to do some farming, they went up the mountain, felled big indigenous trees like the dakua, and usually cleared the land by burning so a lot of the forest was destroyed by fire.
"Back in those days, we didn't realise or were even aware that we were doing something wrong or even imagine that one day we wouldn't hear those songs anymore."
Along with the birds that made their home in the shelter of the gigantic trees, wild pigs also dwindled in numbers and are now rarely seen.
Wild pig hunts that were a form of ritualistic celebration, a passage of rites of sorts for village boys into manhood, and cultural fun that often broke the dreariness of daily routine, is also a thing of the past.
Areas of land that were not farmed but had been inadvertently cleared were planted with thousands of pine trees.
Life carried on and the missing birds and pigs were missed but their loss never really raised any alarm until water supply was affected.
Tawake said his village was known to be a hydro paradise, with water springs bubbling all over the rocky hillside but even these disappeared as well.
Soon the main water source at a spot called Namatakalou started to dry up thrusting the seriousness of the loss of the forest into the heart of village discussions.
Decisions were made and rules about forest clearing were implemented. Villagers agreed they had to take the first step regrow their lost forests
With the help of WWF-South Pacific's Sustainable Coastal Resource Use Management program team, a reforestation initiative was started on the hills where the vaga once made its home.
The tree planting exercise funded through the Global Environment Facility Small Grants Program was held over two days at the end of which about 1070 seedlings were planted consisting of indigenous and adopted tree species.
The list of tree species included teak, vesi, tavola, marasa, damanu, dakua makadre, dakua salulsau, kaudamu, mandarin, cevua, yasi and camquat lemon.
Trees were also planted near the water source at Namatakalou to protect it.
WWF-South Pacific's Sustainable landuse officer Unaisi Malani noted that reforestation has additional benefits for villagers.
"What they have planted is a big investment not only to the present villagers of Nabavatu but especially for the generation to come," he said.
"Replanting of the local tree seedlings will limit the growth and introduction of exotic plants, and the fruit-bearing seedlings may provide the villagers with food, traditional medicine and some form of income benefiting the households of Nabavatu."
Tawake, the village headman, said they had also decided to harvest their pine trees.
"We believe the deep roots of the pine tree have literally emptied out water stocks and threatened the main one we drink from so we want it removed and replaced with the indigenous trees that we once had," he said.
"We believe that all we have lost will return.
"It may not be witnessed by this generation but we want to give our future generations this gift and protect the source of a basic need which is our water supply.
"The wild pigs will occupy our forests once more and the vaga and other birds that fill up the forests and the hillside with music will also come back.
"We look forward to that day."

Taraivini, a story from Gau

from w
This morning I gave the children's segment story at church in Colac, my version from a story told to us from Ratu Marika. The theme was prayer. I used a scattering of pictures from the internet as I didn't have time to make new drawings as I intended and these were put on the data projector. I had a Fijian fishing basket which was passed around the congregation.
Here's the story:
The fisher girl Taraivini – a story as told by Ratu Marika

This is an old story from the Fiji Island of Gau about a teenage girl named Taraivini.  She lived with her Mum and Dad in a village.  From the 1930s. She loved to catch fish or to find mussels and cockles to give to her family to cook. One day a group of fishermen took their canoe out into the deep sea to find a good place to spear fish near a small deserted island and they took Taraivini with them.

When they reached the small island the men were spearing fish and Taraivini searched for cockle shells and caught small fish.  She found a place around the corner of rocks.
After three hours she returned to the main beach to find the canoe gone, the fishermen gone. Far out to sea she saw the canoe. They had left her behind!

She was  alone. What to do.  She prayed and prayed. To stay or to swim. It was almost dark.

She decided to swim, tied her basket to her waist and started swimming.  Occasionally she found a rock to stand on or a reef to have a short rest, but then it got so dark she couldn’t see her village or even the island.

Back at the village Taraivini’s parents were desperate and angry that their daughter had been left behind, all alone.  The fishermen said she would have stayed on the little island and tomorrow they would fetch her. Taravini’s mother was crying wanted  to beat the fishermen with sticks, but instead decided to pray to God.  She and her husband went to the village church to ask God’s  protection of Taraivini.  Ask and it will be given you, the minister had told them in one sermon.

 Then Taraivini’s Dad had a good idea. Prayer isn’t enough. Let’s be practical. Let’s go to our beach and make a bonfire so that Taraivini can see the light of it.  So they did so, built a big fire and it lit up the sky.

Taraivini saw the light at last and knew which way to swim and almost exhausted she reached the beach and home.  Her parents hugged her hugely of course, knowing that their daughter was alive. They thanked God.  Their prayer was answered.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

How Australia views their neighbours

from w
This is not about Fiji ..... but it does show how Australia views some of its neighbouring Pacific Island states. Overbearing, big brother, bossy and certainly passing the buck.
from the abc

The top 10 mistakes in the PNG solution

Updated 2 hours 0 minutes ago
Apart from it being a diplomatic slight with colonial overtones, there are a number of legal and logistical barriers in the way of the Papua New Guinea solution, writes Susan Harris Rimmer.
That noise you heard on Friday afternoon, during Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's announcement that PNG would henceforth process and resettle all boat arrivals? It was the sound of terrible spluttering as every international relations expert in Australia snorted their tea out their nose.
You have been had, dear readers. Tricked. The plan may not work. There are many barriers - diplomatic, legal, financial and logistical. But even if it does "work", that may be worse still. On top of that, the process is riddled with errors and missteps that will cause problems in other areas.
Here are the top 10 mistakes:
  1. Diplomatic mistake. The name 'Regional Resettlement Arrangement' is a fake. There is such a thing as a regional resettlement arrangement, such as the Comprehensive Plan of Action for Indo-Chinese refugees in the 1980s or the EU Dublin Convention. Even the Bali Process on People-Smuggling. This is not one of them. This is outsourcing asylum and outsourcing durable solutions to the same nations we give official development assistance to. More on that anon. If it was a regional document, we might have told Indonesia and Nauru about it. Or even the rest of the PNG Parliament.
  2. Colonial insult. I object to the 'hellhole' narrative about PNG in the Australian press this week. Our neighbour deserves our respect. And this PNG solution looks, sounds and smells like a colonial move. Would we ask Japan or France to do this? If not, guess what every developing country is thinking about us right now. Anything we need a vote to achieve in the UN? Forget it.
  3. Political hypocrisy. Unlike our unfounded panic, PNG has real issues when it comes to refugees. PNG already hosts 9,000 West Papuan refugees and more could come if there are further Indonesian crackdowns. In short, they have enough on their plate and do not want to create pull factors.
  4. Logistical barrier. The UN found that PNG does not have a functional legal framework to determine refugee status, so Australia retains the responsibility for non-refoulement (or non-return of refugees to where they would be persecuted). The UN also found the conditions on Manus Island to be "harsh, hot humid, damp and cramped". These conditions can be fixed, but at such a cost and high degree of legal complication over land rights, it makes Christmas Island look pretty straightforward.
  5. Legal impediments. PNG has opted out of seven crucial obligations to the 1951 Refugee Convention, including the welfare provisions which cover the ability of a refugee to be treated the same as a national in terms of wage-earning employment, elementary education, basic housing and freedom of movement, but also expulsion from the territory without due process, and naturalisation. PNG says it will lift these reservations in relation to the transferred asylum seekers. But not in relation to others? What about West Papuans? It doesn't normally work like this. A subclass of refugees and the rights of local people - looks like a recipe for social unrest.
  6. More legal issues. Nine out of 10 international lawyers will tell you this is a big fat mess (that's the technical legal term) outside the imagined boundaries of the 1951 Convention. (The other lawyer must be working for the Attorney-General.) The European Court of Human Rights has ruled in the past that de facto control over refugees is enough to invoke Refugee Convention protections. Does Australia therefore exercise effective control over transferred people on PNG? We pay for everything and make all the decisions regarding these people. The age-old legal principle "if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck" (I'll forfend from citing the Latin) may be applied - in short, anything that happens to these people in PNG or beyond is our legal responsibility.
  7. PNG is not a signatory to Convention against Torture, which also has non-refoulement provisions. What happens then? This hasn't been tested fully in Australia as the Malaysia case had different facts but our High Court isn't easily fooled and will look at the effective protection offered in PNG and whether Australia can transfer asylum seekers, including children, for resettlement rather than just processing.
  8. Then there is the nagging question of the past 13 years. What about the asylum seekers who come by plane? Are we not applying a penalty to refugees based on their mode of arrival? Which is illegal? Not to mention that PNG has a constitution which is less coy than ours about the illegality of mandatory indefinite detention.
  9. There is also the basic human rights question of whether the Government's response is reasonable and proportionate and directed at the problem - the problem being defined as either the scourge of people smuggling or deaths at sea. It is all very well for PM Rudd to talk tough to people smugglers down the barrel of the camera, but I ask you, do you deal with child trafficking by punishing the kids?
  10. Another question that haunts me is, what if it works? And in the short term, I think it might. We save some lives at sea, but the same people might succumb to despair away from the cameras. What happens to the 6,000 refugees stuck in Indonesia waiting for one of our 600 places a year? What happens to the Iranians stuck in Iran who cannot get a visa? What happens to the Hazaras when we leave Afghanistan?
So Prime Minister, a little Bible study might be needed as you ponder further the decisions you take in this election campaign. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?
Dr Susan Harris Rimmer is the director of studies at the Asia-Pacific College of Diplomacy at the Australian National University. View her full profile here.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Prince Williams' chauffeur is from Fiji

from w
And not only that, he was in today's news delivering a message that many people are waiting to see - the safe delivery of a baby.

Fiji born man delivers royal message
Publish date/time: 23/07/2013 [17:01]
A Fiji born man played an important role in the announcement of the news of Prince William and Kate’s baby boy this morning.

The Fiji born man who cannot be named due to protocol delivered the official notification of the birth of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s baby boy from St Mary’s hospital in London to Buckingham Palace this morning where thousands of people were waiting outside.  
The message delivered by him was then displayed outside Buckingham Palace for the waiting crowds to see.

The British High Commission in Fiji confirmed to Fijivillage that the Fiji born man is a driver for Prince William and Kate Middleton and is thought of very highly to have been chosen to be part of the royal staff.

The Duchess of Cambridge delivered a boy at 5.24 this morning, and the Duke of Cambridge was present.

The baby weighed 3.7 kg.

Prince William said he and his wife Catherine “could not be happier” to welcome their first child.

The mother and her child are both doing well and will remain in hospital overnight.

The baby is third in line for the British throne after his grandfather Prince Charles and father Prince William.

The baby’s name has not yet been announced but he will be known as the Prince of Cambridge.

Story by: Sofaia Koroitanoa

The Indian Division of the Fiji Methodist Church

from w
I came across this document while browsing the web looking for old photos. It is from Padre James Bhagwan's blog  - The Journal of a Spiritual Wonderer, and a paper written by his wife Maelin Pickering Bhagwan. It explains the story of the Indian Division very well. As it doesn't seem to copy well, I'll  only post the link. This story was posted in early May 2013.   The link is

A Historical Examination of the Indian Synod’s Amalgamation into the Conference of the Methodist Church of Fiji and Rotuma

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Labasa in the 1930s

from w
When we were drinking kava and talking about Peceli's birth in 1936 the grandsons were wondering what Labasa was like in those days. Peceli said he remembers very few shops, one being a bread shop run by a Chinese family. There was no real town at all this side of the river. Some Indian families kept their cows on the Ratawa land then.  Qoitoga was the place where the Ratawa family lived - with small creeks and the nearby Labasa river. A few years later Peceli's father gave away all of this land to the Anglican church and there's  the Anglican parsonage etc. because he admired the work of the Anglican Mission Sisters! The area is now crown lease I think. The family lived in a thatched house away from the village as Peceli's father was a very independent kind of person.  Anyway I searched the internet and found a description of Labasa in about 1934 though decidedly from the point of view of an Anglican parson.

Levuka Days of a Parson in Polynesia
By C. W. Whonsbon-Aston
London: Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, 1937.

Captain Whippy of the Tui Labasa now decided that, in order to maintain his scheduled times, we would have to travel by night. We left again at 2 a.m. through reefy waters with the captain's uncanny instinct to guide him; there was no doubt as to his capabilities as a conscientious skipper. During the day we passed up two beautiful rivers clothed with luxuriant tropical vegetation, the Lekutu and Dreketi, spending most of the afternoon on the latter. Here we saw a splendid plantation which, owing to the depression in the copra market, is making little return. The land is very rich and the river, a tourists' paradise, navigable for some [71/72] distance. Experiments have been tried with other crops, all of which have responded to the work put into them, but still the financial troubles of the world are felt severely even in a quiet river on a far away Pacific isle. Strange how depression seems to put money into some people's pockets, while hard toilers, who have deposited their all of money and energy, are in most instances the undeserving losers.
Next day we arrived at the big sugar milling centre at Labasa (pronounced Lambasa), eight miles from the sea up the mangrove-bordered Labasa River. The cane fields take up a large area of flat land about the river banks, with picturesque hills in the near distance surrounding it. Two large knolls stand out near by; one is the Government hill, 

surmounted by the official residences and offices of the District Commissioner, Doctor, Constabulary, and Wireless Officer; the other is set apart as a sanctuary for the European staff (mostly Australian) of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, and duly graded so that the manager occupies the crown and the common herd the foot. The church and vicarage occupy a position half-way up--symbolic, no doubt, of their democratic character.
Apart from the European work the main field of the Church is among the Indian labour. For some years it has been the policy to employ mainly Indians of the coolie classes for labour in the cane fields and on plantation work. The first ship-loads from India were accompanied by serious unforeseen troubles, for one [72/73] ship suffered severely through an epidemic which caused many deaths, while a further party of over six hundred on the Syria was shipwrecked on the reef near Naselai with great loss of life. Many had brought their wives and families. Some returned to India, while others remained and have either continued as free labour, settled on small allotments, share-farmed for the C.S.R., or gone into business. It is not unusual to come unexpectedly on a "Bombay Tailor" with his sign up over a small humpy under the palms in some isolated part of the islands. 

Children who have been reared under these new conditions, away from the narrow streets and bazaars of big crowded Eastern cities, thrive beyond measure. The children are usually very attractive, though the girls seem to lose much of their charm very early in life.
Caste of course disappears as they leave India, but a new standard is arising as the young people are educated and grow up. There is no more attractive type than the old-fashioned Indian, content to work at his agricultural labours, dressed as his fathers dressed, using the unchanging methods of ploughing and sowing that his fathers used, apparently perfectly happy in his quiet old way. On the other hand a smattering of the "three R's" is calculated in some instances to prove too much for the growing youth, and the wooden ploughs of the fathers must be turned into the steel pens of the clerks. The difficulty lies in the fact that Fiji is essentially an agricultural colony and can hardly [73/74] absorb an overplus of clerks. A dissatisfied community straining at emancipation must find its outlet.

Again, the Indian immigrant has, of necessity, brought with him his own particular religious outlook, be it Hindu, Moslem or otherwise, which he has a perfect right to maintain until he can find a better basis for his life and conduct. He has also brought his ideas of child marriage, which have to be modified according to the humanitarian outlook of the Government authorities. Many of his superstitions, in many cases his gambling instincts, in some cases his diseases, might be added. India is a big country of many languages, and Indians from many scattered parts of their home country have also to face a language difficulty. A composite language seems to have evolved among them.
All these aspects have to be taken into consideration in building up the work of Christian missions among Indians in Fiji. The work there began many years ago with some definite organisation, after Archdeacon Floyd returned to Fiji with a grant from S.P.G. in 1903, and was followed later by two missionaries to take the work in hand. It seemed to me at first to be small in scope. This seems to have been the experience of both the Roman Catholics and the Methodists in their own particular spheres of influence among them. The future lies mainly with the young people who attend the mission schools. No matter what the conditions of an Indian parent's life and work, he is an ideal [74/75] parent, sparing nothing for his children's advancement and tremendously keen on education.

On arrival I found the Mission Sisters rather perturbed, in the absence of the priest-in-charge on furlough, by an incident that had occurred. An old Indian woman had been removed from hospital much against the doctor's wishes and taken to her home. She was a Christian, but very ill and extremely helpless, and her friends had decided to try Indian magic to effect a cure, and an Indian magician had been called over to her. As soon as possible that day we crossed the hills and discovered a series of poor looking reed houses below a ploughed field. Our appearance seemed to cause great activity, suggesting that something had to be removed or hidden. They voluntarily repudiated any suggestion of puja, and I decided to give the poor old soul the last Sacraments next morning. This I did, though one could hardly miss the atmosphere of mystery about much that occurred. The old lady died and was given Christian burial on the Sunday afternoon. The body was placed in a coffin and carried on a long bamboo pole some two hilly and muddy miles to the little chapel by a straggling, rather untidy crowd of all religious beliefs, and, after a short service, another mile to the cemetery.

The type of puja varies, but the popular method seemed to be to hold the two halves of a cut lemon near the neck of a rooster as the bird was decapitated. The supposed result was that the spirit of the bird [75/76] entered the lemon, which was then suspended on thongs about the neck of the patient to call out the evil spirit, the cause of the sickness. This sort of difficulty both doctors and missionaries have to face.

Besides the small European church on the hillslope--just a little out of plumb at the time as a hurricane had played with it but not wrecked it--there are on the flat just over the river, which forms one of its bounds, the main Mission school buildings. These consist of a fine concrete modern building, a combined residence and boys' boarding establishment (for Indian boys from outer parts), a carpenter's shop for technical instructions, a small chapel, which had been originally a two-roomed cottage, and a rather dilapidated building that served as a dispensary. The modern building replaced the old school that had collapsed under the combined forces of hurricane and flood. The Headmaster can tell of a night's anxious vigil with his boarders on tables, while the hurricane blew and the flood waters rose. The dispensary, where I saw some very good work being done by the Mission's trained nurse, had been destroyed with all its contents, and parts had been discovered far away and brought back. The damage to the buildings had been so great that it had been impossible to replace all with the money available, so the dispensary still awaited some paint on the flood-washed walls.

The schools were on vacation, but the boys' school maintains its numbers in school term time, while away [76/77] in another part of Labasa, past the Bombay tailors, bootmakers, barbers, and the Indian Talkie Palace, is the girls' school, St. Mary's, ever growing in size--an extra wing has been added--in numbers and efficiency. Early this year (1934) a further school has been opened with Government subsidy at Vunimoli about seven miles from Labasa. So the work extends.

I was able to spend about a fortnight here, visiting the European residents, both near Labasa and out on the train lines at the various overseers' places, as well as getting a good insight into the work of this Mission among the Indians and half-castes. It is hard work, necessary work, and, though it progresses very slowly, it is good work that is being accomplished.

It was apparently Labasa's wet season. Every morning broke clear and sunny, every lunch hour brought threatening mutterings and darkening skies, every early afternoon saw terrific electric storms and heavy tropical downpours; four o'clock always found it clear again, though exceedingly wet underfoot and with a steaminess due to the high humidity. It is said that the middle months of the year are ideal.

Peceli's birthday today

from w
For the birthday boy today, Peceli, the Lomaiviti people produced a cake at Altona Meadows/Laverton Uniting Church this afternoon where we had a service then dinner. A good time chatting with people too. A farewell for four men returning to Fiji soon, after a stay here of about three months. They had come over to Melbourne for the funeral of beloved Bale, Sailosi's wife three months ago. Two Australians Rev Bill Lidgett and Claire, came to be part of our service, but then Bill got asked, unexpectedly, to preach. Lucky he had a USB stick in his pocket and found a data projector and laptop! Vinaka Bill. Earlier in the day we had some kava with George, Jordan and Andrew at home and Peceli told the boys stories of his birth at the newly built Labasa hospital (1936) - his mother had to cross the Labasa river by canoe to get there - and then we talked about family, and named all his brothers and sisters - eleven of them so the boys can know the different family connections.
The photos are of one Lomaiviti man making a farewell speech, then Peceli with the cake, the dinner ready, and some of the children at church having their dinner.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Lomaiviti people in Melbourne

from w
Last night the Lomaiviti group in Melbourne had a fundraising night with delicious curry dinner, kava, a string band and lots of talanoa.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Work on Nabouwalu to Dreketi Road

from Peceli,
It's good to see something happening in Bua because certainly this road needs to be done.   When does the loan have to be paid back?
from the Fiji Times.

Work on highway progresses

Luke Rawalai
Thursday, July 18, 2013
THE Dreketi-Nabouwalu Highway upgrade is progressing well since work started four months ago and is expected to be completed within its planned timeframe.
China Railway First Group Limited spokesman Donald Singh said a total of 57 sets of earthwork machines and 49 dump trucks were brought into the country specifically for the project.
Mr Singh said heavy excavation works were in progress and did not interfere with the flow of traffic along the highway.
"The project employs 166 Chinese (management and technicians) and 305 locals who do technical, managerial and construction labour works," he said.
"The 70-kilometre road has been split into three sections of 23km of roadwork portions where work is continuing simultaneously.
"So far the company has carried out about 70km of land clearing. This has been done in the three sections."
Mr Singh said they had cleared land out for places where the realignment of roads would be carried out.
Work on 14 bridges and 209 culverts along the highway, he added, had started and these would be built to high standards.
"The new highway will be 10.3 metres wide in diameter which will give vehicles passing along the area greater space."
The $228million project, whose funding has been sourced from the Export-Import Bank of China, is expected to be completed by 2015.

Women are farmers in Labasa

from w
It is not surprising to read a story of a babasiga woman farming her land to support her family. The women of Labasa are often strong independent women and here is one example. Good on you Adi Sivo.
from the Fiji Times today (Thursday.)

Strength of a woman

Salaseini Moceiwai
Wednesday, July 17, 2013

FOR Adi Sivo Ravuwale, 54, education is not the only key to success — farming is also another. Having completed her high school education at the age of 18, the mother of four has since become a farmer at Bulileka Village in Labasa. Her passion and love for farming not only spurred her to plant vegetables and root crops but also sugar cane. Now, she is utilising about 10 acres of their mataqali land for farming.

"When I first started farming, I encountered a lot of difficulties in terms of financial support and assistance from experts," she said. "I assured myself that there was a reward at the end of the road and this boosted my spirit to use the little skills and knowledge I have on farming. Some underestimated me because I was a woman and they criticised me, saying that I will not succeed. I wanted to prove them wrong and so I decided to spend most of my time in my farm ploughing and planting."
The idea certainly worked for Adi Sivo after her farm flourished, and still does today."My farm has not only provided food for my family but also generated income for us. Even though my husband had left me, I am glad that I am able to support my children and live well each day."

Being a single mother is not a challenge as far as this woman is concerned.

In fact, Adi Sivo sees it as a training ground to become an independent and successful woman. She is the iTaukei Cane Growers Northern co-ordinator and also the president of the Bulileka Women's Group and an International Women's Forum member.

"I have learnt a lot of new things as years go by and such knowledge has empowered me to become a strong woman who can do anything that comes my way. My daily life is one that is similar to a man because I get up early in the morning and visit my farm before I even cook breakfast," she said. "This has become a part of my life and I enjoy it, because at the end of the day, I am able to sleep well knowing that I have fulfilled a day's work."

Adi Sivo says she sells some of her farm produce at the Labasa Market and the rest is consumed at home. "The money I earn pays for my household expenses and also facilitates my canteen in the village. All my children are grown up now and I don't worry about them too much because they are also independent and self-reliant. I am now living a happy life and I don't regret any bit of it because it was meant to be this way as planned by God. I continue to live each day not worrying about my life because I also have people whom I hire to look after my farm when I am not around."

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Putting the Good Samaritan story into practice

Putting the Good Samaritan story into practice. This afternoon we stopped the car near Winchelsea for a ten minute rest, and then the engine wouldn't kick over again. Cars did stop to help but they didn't have jump leads. Phoned a son, phoned RACV and waited and waited. A busy country road - we were returning to Geelong from Colac. We knew it was a battery problem. Our mobile phone was going flat by then after a few calls. Then a Good Sam arrived. A family returning from a holiday at Port Fairy. Offered to use their mobile to hurry up the RACV who just hadn't turned up after nearly an hour. Then said they would wait with us until RACV arrived. Invited us to sit in their 4 wheel drive as it was very cold but we were okay.  Mum and Dad setting a good example to their three children in the back seat. Nice family indeed. RACV man came and it took two minutes to get the car going again! Today's lectionary text was the Good Samaritan and Peceli led the Uniting Church service at Colac this morning. The following was in their church newsletter.

Who is my neighbor?

The story Jesus told in response to the question, ‘Who is my neighbour’ was set in the context of life in Palestine in the days of Jesus when the recognized leaders were often fussed about their own rules but uncaring about people’s needs. That a Samaritan man would be the one who helped would have shocked the listeners.

In Australia today we still have care for the stranger as a way of life and this ethic has been handed down through the Christian Church. The stories differ from the parable told by Jesus and often the ‘care of the stranger’ is done by government, by professionals, by volunteer organizations.

What are some of the organizations who put into practice the idea of being a good neighbour to others?

Here are some of them: Jirrahlinga, Wombat’s Wish – for bereaved children, DoCare, Meals on Wheels, Lifeline, Bethany, Red Cross, Glastonbury, Hand on Learning, tutoring new migrants, Bravehearts, Anam Cara, Legacy, Diversitat, and of course volunteers in fire-fighting like the CFA and other Emergency services.

So the story of the Good Samaritan has far-reaching consequences in our world today even though many people do not realize that the message came from a parable told by Jesus Christ to a group of people two thousand years ago..

However there are still times when the personal decision to notice a person in distress and to take time to help is a priority.

For us the main issue is one to one relationships, take notice, pay attention to other people, discern when it is the right time and place to talk with them, be silent at times and listen attentively. Like our Saviour Jesus Christ, take notice of people who are alone, on the edge of society, different, not welcomed by others, and like Jesus. speak to them, give them comfort whether in words or in action. That’s the message from the parable of the Good Samaritan.

Friday, July 12, 2013

How you gonna keep 'em down on the farm

from w
I'm not surprised that men and women do not want to work in the canefields these days. The farmers are finding it hard to get labourers up in babasiga land to cut the cane.  Our family usually get a band of relatives from Bua or Mali  Island to spend a  few days/weeks at Vatuadova or nearby, and they get fed and sheltered and a small wage. But many farmers are having difficulty getting cane gangs.

From today's Fiji Times.

Labourers lose interest

Luke Rawalai
Saturday, July 13, 2013
NORTHERN cane farmers continue to face difficulty acquiring labourers.
National Farmers Union president Surendra Lal said the farmers have difficulty finding labourers because they were demanding and were a financial burden.
Mr Lal said canecutting was tedious work and people had begun to lose interest.
"Compared to the old days, Indian extended families used to live together under the same roof, farming in a large unit and making the task easier for farmers," he said.
"Now times have changed, people are shouldering the workload individually and it is tougher for farmers.
"I think that if the industry is to be revived, the government has to mechanise the industry and introduce cane harvesting machines."
Mr Lal said the infrastructure needed to be changed because most of it were from the colonial days.
"We need to also change the infrastructure we have in order to improve the performance of the industry."
Macuata provincial administrator Josefa Rokonai said they were playing their part by speaking to provincial offices in Bua, Macuata and Cakaudrove seeking people interested in cutting cane this season.
"Some have come and have shown their interest to cut cane while others are making their own arrangements. We are all doing our part in trying to get as many labourers as we can for the farmers."

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Why do many Fiji people die before 60

From the Fiji Times, an alarming story about health in Fiji, or lack of care of one's health. Certainly anecdotal evidence points to many heart attacks when men are in their 40s and the diabetes statistics is serious with many amputations.  Surely this is where a government needs to prioritise resources, education, and money - the health of the nation as a priority instead of jaunts overseas and bunfights and conferences at resort hotels.

8pc of populace reach 60

Tevita Vuibau
Thursday, July 11, 2013
ONLY eight per cent of Fiji's population are reaching the age of 60.
This was revealed by the Minister for Health, Dr Neil Sharma, who blamed this latest alarming statistic on NCDs like diabetes as well as the unhealthy lifestyles of many.
"There are people living in the world to the age of 90 but there are people living in Fiji to the average age of 60 or early 60s," Dr Sharma said.
"The average age of women is 65-67, for men it's 62-63 and a lot of patients are not surviving to even 60.
"You have only eight per cent of our population reaching 60."
But he did say the number was expected to double thanks to population demographics but still advised caution on the type of foods consumed by people.
"That number will double yes. If you look at the population dynamics, we are at the stage where the population will grow, there are a lot more people in their 20s and 30s but if you don't look after your health, you will find that your life will be shortened prematurely."
Dr Sharma said it was important for people to adhere to the courses of medication prescribed by doctors for diabetes and other NCDs.
He made the comment in regards to herbal medicine saying that while it was up to the patient to try alternative cures, they should not completely forego the advice of their physicians.
"We are saying that yes (be aware of the use of herbal medicine), but whatever you do, conform to what your doctor or nurse or physician advises."
And a good news story from Labasa this time from the Fiji Sun.

Health centre receives computer set

The newly-opened Nasea Health Centre, in Labasa, received a brand new computer set from a prominent businessman, Paul Jaduram, yesterday.

Receiving the donation, Divisional Medical Officer, Dr Pablo Romakin, said this computer will greatly help with work at the health centre. “It will be used for the inventory system and for issuing medicine. This will be recorded as assets for transparency and accountability. "The computer will help the staff, as they do their work manually, now it will ease their work load and patients will benefit as well,” Dr Romakin said.

Mr Jaduram is urging the Labasa community to offer whatever they can as it can save someone’s life one day.”
“Health officials approached us for assistance and we are glad to help so people can wait comfortably when they visit the centre and enjoy excellent services.Health education is important in our lives”, Mr Jaduram added.

Meanwhile Ministry of Health officials received two air-conditioning units, worth around $3000, from the Duavata Northern Crime Prevention Carnival committee, a TV set from Auto Hardware Company and benches from Haniff Industries.

The Nasea Health Centre is set to be officially opened this week by the Minister for Health, Dr Neil Sharma.