Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Fiji kids and reading

from w
In some Fiji villages and farm settlements there is a real scarcity of reading material and even in many schools in Fiji. Despite the numerous donations from overseas by groups such as Rotary, there still is a need for more books and apparently small libraries in villages. In Vuo village near Malau Port out of Labasa, the poor reading skills of the children was noticed and something was done about it with the establishment of a small library, table and chairs. Not that children need chairs - I have noticed that children can still read lying flat on the floor! The main point is of course appropriate reading material.

Here in Geelong we sort books every Tuesday and Wednesday mornings to pack into containers for Fiji (though a glitch in Fiji customs has stopped that at present by demanding high duty rates even on secondhand goods), Papua New Guinea, etc. But I wonder if some of the books such as sets of encyclopaedias with small print are really helpful for primary school students. Sometimes we pack really beautiful books, but at other times, the books are a bit old. Anyway, good on you Vuo for the initiative at the local level.

Of course the eco-tourism visitors to Vorovoro over three years have given many books to the school on nearby Mali Island. Way to go.

Village library lifts literacy
from Fiji Sun
Children of Vuo Village in Labasa received a boost to their literacy with the establishment of a village library. The need for a library was highlighted by the Vuo Bhartiya Primary School headteacher Bal Sanju Reddy. The library was part of the school’s community outreach programme and was set up with the assistance of the Ministry of Information’s Department of Library Services.

Children of Vuo village in Labasa now have a table to study on and access to educational information after the successful establishment of a library yesterday. The need for a library set-up was raised by the school management and Vuo village community with the Ministry of Information’s Department of Library Services. “There are about 32 preschool students and primary school students in Vuo Village that attend my school,’’ Mr Reddy said.

He said these students in the past usually gathered every afternoon from school under a bure in the village to do their assignment. “Students used to sit on the floor to study in an overcrowded room since there was no study table and chairs,” Mr Reddy said. He said thanks to the Department of Library Services not only do the children have a table to place their books for study but now they have a library to access needed information.

“Now the children don’t have to pay extra money to travel to Labasa Town to gather information from the libraries to compile their projects instead they can visit their doorstep library,” Mr Reddy said. Mr Reddy said this library would not only serve the Vuo village students but also the other nearby school students.

Department of Library Services project officer Vasenai Bai said in the library one can find fiction books, non-fiction books, reference collection and Pacific collection. “In the library we had placed a big table that can cater 12 students and an issue desk,” Miss Bai said.

She said also she had placed a blackboard, compiled Fiji Focus special lift outs from the Fiji Sun newspaper and put up numerical charts on the walls.
There are some lovely photos of the people of Vuo village on flickr so a google search of 'Fiji Day Vuo Village' will find the photos taken (probably) by one of the tribewanted visitors to Vorovoro Island. I wasn't allowed to download them!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Islander kids and rugby in Oz

from w
There's talk about weight or age for junior rugby players in Sydney and it's so noticeable that boys and girls who are about twelve years old are not all the same height and weight. Particularly Islander kids, so Westmead Hospital in Sydney is doing a study on age and weight for the Under 12s. This seems a great idea as we've noticed that some players are as big as the Dads of other kids!

Little league sizes up the issue

EXCLUSIVE by Paul Kent
From: The Daily Telegraph
June 25, 2011 12:00AM

UNDER-12s rugby league players will have their height and weight measured from today as officials consider ending age-based divisions because of startling differences in the size of kids.

With parents increasingly worried about their children getting hurt, details are being compiled as part of a major study between the Children's Hospital at Westmead and the NSW Rugby League.

Anecdotal evidence suggests hundreds - perhaps even thousands - of junior footballers are turning away from the code because they consider themselves too small against the increasing number of Polynesians playing the sport.

Between January 2010 and April this year, 66 youngsters were admitted to the Children's Hospital with head injuries or concussions from playing AFL, rugby union and rugby league.

After years of debate, NSW Rugby League coaching and development manager Martin Meredith believes real decisions have to be made. (They will be ) weighing and measuring every player in the under-12s Penrith junior league. The results will be used to determine if the junior competition moves to weight-based divisions.

"We've got a significant Islander population in some of our more popular areas, " NSW Rugby League chief executive Geoff Carr said.

"And there has been a lot of work done in trying to sort out the weight issue."

Mr Meredith said a scientific approach was essential.

"Rather than go on hunch and opinion, we're getting actual data," he said.

"The hospital is going to help us ... they're going to compare players' weights and heights against the national norms and get a position on do we have a problem in regard to height and weight, big kids and little kids. If the data shows that we have got a problem we'll sit down with the hospital. We have to work out what the right age and what the right weight are."

While a switch from age-based divisions to weight-based appears to be the most agreeable solution, it could lead to new problems.

For instance how does a 12-year-old Polynesian boy, weighing 70kg, fare against a 16-year-old Caucasian boy who also weighs 70kg?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

what's happening on Vorovoro Island nowadays?

from w
I was wondering whether Tribewanted are still on Vorovoro Island near Mali these days because it became quiet some time ago. This is the response I found when I looked up their website. Sounds like it is very very quiet.

Update on Vorovoro - June
Community → Tribewanted News → Ben Keene's blog

Ben Keene By mr.ben, nomadic, Posted about 5 hours ago

Heading back to Fiji for the first time in almost a year it felt like going home. The warm welcome first by Tui Mali and his family and then Poasa & Francis on Vorovoro was as generous as ever.

We discussed at length (around the tanoa – where else) the re-opening of Vorovoro and the different partnership options. What is clear is that the Mataqali (the landowners – Tui Mali and his three brothers and families) are determined to re-open the island for tourism but are also not in a rush to do so. They are keen to get the structure of any new partnership absolutely right and are going through a long process of consultation with different government bodies.

After paying our outstanding debts I explained how a new partnership model with Tribewanted might work with us providing a guaranteed minimum monthly income for the land and jobs but the business being majority owned by the Mataqali. We spent several hours on Tui Mali’s veranda going through ‘banana cake’ pie charts with torchlight. We have learned a lot together over the last few years!

The NLTB have endorsed the offer we made and it was well received by the landowners. Tui Mali is aware that lots of people still want to visit Vorovoro and at the moment they can’t – which is frustrating to all. He is currently waiting for the FTIB (Fiji Trade & Investment Board) to visit the island and at his request re-value the land. I’m not sure this is going to make any difference to the future of Vorovoro but I understand why the landowners want to do it.

I am in contact with Ulai, Tui Mali and the NLTB on a regular basis and as soon as there is any progress in Fiji I will let you all know. The good news is that Maddy & Savenaca will be getting married on Vorovoro with their families in July. I’m sure you’ll join me in wishing them a great day and a happy long-life together.

Whilst Sierra Leone is in rainy season (project is closed for July & August) I am working with righttodream.com in Ghana – amazing education and sport project. Check it out.

Please send me questions you might have about Vorovoro at anytime

Moce mada



Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Davui Trumpet Shell

from w
The other evening while we were drinking kava and yarning, I noticed two very large Fiji trumpet shells which we call davui. So we asked where our friends had got them during their recent trip to Fiji. The reply was that a cousin had been on the reef, had brought them in, cooked the animal inside and then given the shells to them. I thought these were very precious kind of shells so wondered about the customs but it was explained that they were not 'bought' but were caught by a relative. On the internet such shells are for sale for about $3000. They are actually very important in the ecology of the reef these days as the davui creature eats the crown of thorns starfish that does so much damage to the reef.

Fiji, clouds and Ethical Tourism

from w
We do live in isolation these days. A cloud of ash moves around the southern hemisphere disrupting the lives of people thousands of miles away from Chile. People are camping at airports waiting for flights and others are anxious about whether it is safe to even fly.

International carrier Air Pacific is monitoring the volcanic ash cloud over Australian airspace which has led to numerous flights by other major airlines being cancelled. But it says it will continue operations as normal until such time that it becomes unfeasible. “Today’s (Tuesday) Air Pacific service to Sydney operated normally and tonight’s (last night) Melbourne flight has also departed,” Air Pacific spokesman Samisoni Pareti said.

“As for Sydney tomorrow (today), we are scheduling for normal operations, although our Flight Operation team is monitoring the volcanic ash cloud over east Australia. If there’s going to be any change in any of our flights to Australia, we will inform customers accordingly.”

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the volcanic ash cloud continued to disrupt flights, with Qantas cancelling yesterday’s services in and out of Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra. Qantas said all other domestic flights would operate normally, while international services arriving into Sydney and Melbourne, including from New Zealand, would be delayed until tomorrow.

For Sydney, all domestic Qantas and Jetstar flights to and from the city from 3pm yesterday were suspended. All Virgin flights from 4pm were also cancelled.
Qantas said it was reviewing its international flights to and from Sydney. Four flights departing Sydney and bound for London and Frankfurt via Bangkok and Singapore were rescheduled to leave earlier at 2.15pm. Flight QF32 from Singapore to Sydney was diverted to Brisbane. All Jetstar flights arriving and departing Newcastle have also been cancelled from 3pm. Virgin’s Newcastle flights were suspended from 4pm. Tiger Airways has grounded its entire fleet in Australia. Passengers were urged to stay in touch with their airlines.

Qantas spokeswoman Olivia Wirth said: “We simply don’t have enough information and it will be safety before schedule. We don’t know the density [of the cloud]. ... The Qantas group will not be flying or around the particular cloud. Customers are advised not travel to the airport if their flight has been cancelled. A fare waiver is in place and full details can be accessed on qantas.com,” Qantas added in a statement.

Airservices Australia said “significant nationwide flow-on delays” were expected. It added that flights from Perth heading towards south-eastern Australia would be affected and advised passengers to contact their airlines directly.

The Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre in Darwin said the cloud crossed the South Australian coast yesterday morning and then the southern NSW coast late yesterday. Earlier the plume was 2000 kilometres south-west of Western Australia but was moving rapidly at 80 to 100 knots. It was predicted to run into a strong low-pressure system in the Great Australian Bight, which would drag it northwards, the ash advisory centre’s director, Andrew Tupper, said.

Chile’s Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcano began erupting on June 4, shooting a plume of ash into the air which made its way across the Atlantic and Indian oceans before reaching Australian and New Zealand airspace. The air cloud has travelled around Earth one-and-a-half times and is “particularly persistent in the atmosphere”, Airservices Australia said. Last week, almost 100,000 people and 700 flights were affected by the ash plume over six days of air chaos spanning from Perth to New Zealand. Mr Tupper said as the plume was a rare occurence, a third loop back to Australia was not likely.

Ash poses a significant threat to aircraft because once sucked into engines it can be converted into molten glass, as a result of the high temperatures, and potentially cause an engine to fail.
The other item of interest is about the ethics of tourism as relating to Fiji. Should people go and have a lovely holiday at resorts and visit villages in Fiji at the time when the people are suffering very much from economic hardship and living under very very strict rules of a public emergency condition? My opinion is that Fiji does need mork for the resorts and visitors, but thouse who do visit Fiji need to keep in mind the situation and be sensitive and perhaps extra kind to the people they meed who work for very little in the resorts. Go, but keep your eyes open!

This article was published in Perth recently. An Australian Union Leader cautions potential tourists from visiting Fiji, or at least thinking about ethical tourism.
• Ged Kearney
• From: PerthNow
• June 13, 2011 1:28PM
With more than 333 islands Fiji is an amazing tropical island paradise.
WHEN it's this cold many of us think of escaping to a warm island paradise, but when it comes to Fiji the postcard images of warm water lapping pristine beaches mask an uglier picture.

Many travellers have been able to ignore the fact that Fiji is under a military dictatorship, but when the government is using their absolute power to stifle free speech and attack the rights of the workers who are serving you, it’s time to ask some serious questions.

The problem is what do we do? Making calls on how we treat developing nations, especially our neighbours, is always tough. Tourism keeps the Fiji economy afloat and is vital to the living standards of all its people. Fiji is far from being North Korea with palm trees – there is still some civil society and freedom left.

But the military regime that has been in power since 2006 is steadily eroding basic freedoms and crushing any democratic opposition, in particular journalists and unions.

The regime pays lip service to democracy with a vague promise that elections will be held in 2014. There is no reason why elections could not be held earlier than 2014, even this year, and I have no faith that the regime intends to deliver on its vague promise.

Military strongman Commodore Frank Bainimarama heads a government that has no democratic legitimacy. At a time where people across the globe are embracing democracy, most recently seen in the uprisings in the Arab world, it is tragic that a nation like Fiji is sinking into this type of dictatorship.

Fiji is not the worst dictatorship in the world, but it is in our neighbourhood and the one where Australia and Australians have the most influence.

Bainimarama may sound like an 80s all-girl band but he is guilty of human rights violations in the first degree. In May this year proposals surfaced for new laws which would effectively outlaw unions and neuter any effective representation of Fijian workers.

A report released last week by the International Trade Union Confederation has found that repression of unions in Fiji is worsening.

The regime had already adopted tactics to intimidate union leaders. Earlier this year the head of Fiji’s trade unions was detained twice and assaulted once by the military. Senior union members in Fiji have been harassed, arrested or threatened with the sack if they maintain involvement in their union. Other critics of the military regime have been detained and beaten.

The regime has implemented a set of Public Emergency Regulations that limit freedom of speech, expand police powers and curb media freedom. Interim administration personnel accompanied by police have been placed in all major news outlets, which may be shut down if they publish stories deemed ‘negative’.

Courts are increasingly biased and cowed by the military regime and many judges owe the positions to the military.

Military personnel have the power to use arms to break up gatherings and have detained individuals without charge.

Many Fijians with the ability to leave have chosen to emigrate, taking their skills and money with them.

The victims of all this are ordinary Fijians, 40 per cent of whom live on less than $1.25 a day - and for them the role of trade unions has never been more important.

Stopping unions from representing ordinary Fijians will only make their situation worse, while the wealth of the country goes to cronies of the regime.

The Australian Government has introduced high-level sanctions against members of the military regime in Fiji, stopping them from travelling to Australia. We have also suspended defence co-operation with Fiji.

And this is where it gets tough: should we call for a tourism boycott? While I know it would cause pain to the regime, further sanctions would also hurt ordinary Fijians who rely on tourism or sugar exports as their main source of income.

Instead I want Australia to renew diplomatic and political pressure on the Fijian Government and hold it up to the scrutiny of the world. In particular I want Australian companies that do business in Fiji to demand respect for human rights.

But we must keep the idea of a tourism boycott in our back pocket if all else fails.

And if you are still tempted to travel to a resort in Fiji this winter, talk to the locals working there, find out what they are going through – and know that although the smiles are real there is pain in this island paradise.
An Australia

Friday, June 17, 2011

Now wouldn't that be loverly

from w
The interference in the lives of people is amazing though this one would be quite an interesting ban, as if.... In Fiji many, many people smoke and it's not a good thing, but a total ban for the whole country would be amazing. Converting tobacco fields to vegetable farms - dream on!
from Fiji Village:

Suggestions made to ban smoking in Fiji
Publish date/time: 17/06/2011 [16:04]

Suggestions have been made that smoking should be completely banned in the country. The Fiji College of General Practitioners in their recent annual conference had made this suggestion that Fiji should be declared “smoke free”.

President Dr Ram Raju said this was well supported in the conference by various stakeholders as the high rates of heart attacks and deaths related to other cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension and stroke is all related to smoking.

Dr Raju said therefore smoking has to be banned if the health sector is serious enough to reverse this trend.

He added that declaring Fiji Smoke Free will be a win-win situation as all rich and fertile land used for tobacco farming should be converted to planting vegetables and fruits.

Tobacco factories will also be converted to vegetable and fruit processing to create more jobs.

He further added that short term losses from tobacco taxes and revenue will soon be outweighed by long term benefits and a smoke free atmosphere will create a much healthy and polluted free atmosphere in which tourism will also be given a boost.

Story by: Sofaia Koroitanoa

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Some minor news

from w
A fwo items from Labasa are in today's news but other news don't make it such as a special meeting in Queenbeayan in Australia with a line-up with an urgent message on Fiji politics. Not an unexpected lot except for the the one who took a trip on a sailin' ship and reached Nukualoafa where he made a stop! The blogs are overtime though of course with the stories and the speeches are predictable, even for one on a tourist visa.

Congratulations to students in Labasa.
Labasa Graduation
THREE hundred students of the National Employment Centre have secured jobs in the tourism industry since November last year.
A training program conducted by the Service Pro-Centre under the NEC has so far educated more than 1000 unemployed individuals in the hospitality and tourism sector.
Centre director Epi Gonewai said the graduates had obtained jobs in the laundry section, housekeeping, front office and food and beverage.
Addressing 102 students at the NEC graduation ceremony in Labasa yesterday, Mr Gonewai said the students' efforts and sacrifices had paid off. He said their participation in the eight weeks of training had reflected a positive image of the Northern Division.
"They have shown their interest in the economy and have chosen a career path that will boost economic growth," Mr Gonewai said.

Excellent news for Labasa to have a tourist ship in and visitors enjoying the mangroves and shopping.

Ship visits Labasa

From Fiji times
HISTORY has been created for Labasa after it was visited by Captain Cook Cruises' MV Reef Endeavour yesterday.
Popular Indian music nagada welcomed about 80 tourists from the cruise as they stepped out of buses to attend a cultural event organised by the Labasa Multicultural Centre at Civic Centre.
Cruise management director Sydney, Anthony Haworth said the Northern Division has been a wonderful site.
"This cultural cruise provides the opportunity to explore the north and get a feel of the various lifestyles," Mr Haworth said.
"This is the first time for such a cruise and the passengers are overwhelmed with the various cultural experiences and the generosity of people.
"The people are friendly and always smiling. We have experienced Polynesian and Micronesian cultures and now we are experiencing the beauty of Indian and Fijian cultures." Their next destination was the Dreketi River รน the deepest river in Fiji.
Tui Macuata Ratu Aisea Katonivere said the arrival of the visitors to the north was a positive response for the Look North Policy. He said the cruise management will plan a seven-day trip bimonthly.

And, no longer a holiday for Fiji's honoured gentleman, some schools still do remember.

Remembering Ratu Sukuna
From Fiji Sun

Students, parents and teachers of Saint Augustine Public School in Labasa gathered at the school on Friday to commemorate the life of the late Ratu Sir Josefa Lalabalavu Vanayaliyali Sukuna.
Chief guest and Ministry of Education senior education officer for Bua and Macuata, Peni Saune said Ratu Sukuna was one of Fiji’s heroes who would be remembered, not only as the ‘Father of the Modern Day Fiji’, but for his contribution to education.
“His illustrious career, his achievements, his wisdom and foresight speak volumes of a great man whose influence on our people are immense,” Mr Saune said.
He told the students that Ratu Sukuna remains an exemplary role model because he was a man of discipline and persevered to achieve his goal.
“The legacy he left behind remains a challenge, not only for our students, but also for modern day leaders,” Mr Saune said.
“Ratu Sukuna’s education complemented his status. He was a descendant of Bau and Lau royalty and no other chief held a university degree during his time.”
Through his hard work, he said, the decorated chief earned the respect of his people.
“Many people remembered him for promoting the learning of traditional skills in handicraft, fishing and farming to prevent estranging us from our identity.”
“Tavelling from village to village, Ratu Sukuna listened to the common people and took their concerns back to the colonial authority.
“The adage ‘Man’s greatest gift is remembrance’ reminds us to remember our heroes who have sacrificed their lives for the betterment of our beloved Fiji.”
He thanked the school for commemorating the life of a scholar and statesman who had left many inspirational footprints in Fiji.
Ratu Sukuna was born in 1888 into a chiefly family on Bau. His father, Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi, was the son of the Bauan noble and rebel leader Ratu Mara Kapaiwai.
Ratu Sukuna did not live to see Fiji gain independence. He died en route to England on the ship Arcadia, on May 30, 1958.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Kava and lovo in Geelong

from w
Yesterday the lads cooked a lovo with chicken, lamb, pork, dalo etc. and we had a good party last night with about forty people cramming into our house. It was a meeting for the Fiji Geelong Friendship Club but also there were four people having birthdays - Jordan, George, Pangea and Andrew. Lots of kava drinking, loud conversation, kids playing on the X box in another room, and a good time. Two friends who now live in Queensland were down for the weekend so it was good to catch up with Ken and Selai. Some new friends too, Janita, Mark and Jo. Vina'a va'alevu.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Milk for babies - breast or bottle

from w
The Fiji Health Department apparently wants to insist that young mothers breast-feed their new babies, but sometimes this just ain't possible and they have to buy special formula and bottle feed. It seems a bit harsh that powdered products are being taken off the shelves of shops - so what do the young mums do meanwhile if they can't produce the goods! I can see that the idea is well-meaning in that breast-milk is best, but... I wouldn't say that infant formula milk is 'unhealthy'! It's better than tea anyway. Just who is making these decisions - men I suppose!

from Fiji Village.
Health ministry adamant that infant formula milk is unhealthy
Publish date/time: 03/06/2011 [17:09]
The Health Ministry stressed that it stands by its decision that babies using infant formula milk are unhealthy. Ministry spokesperson, Peni Namotu said this is the main reason why the ministry wants all pictures of healthy babies removed from the formula cans and to be replaced with new labels in big and bold letters clearly stating that breast milk is best.

This is under the Marketing Control for Food for Infants and Young Children Regulation 2010 which promoted breast feeding and adequate nutrition for children from birth to five years.

Businesses found not complying with the regulation will have to pay a maximum penalty of $50,000 or imprisonment for 10 years or both.

While many understand that breast milk is the best for babies, questions have been raised on whether the Ministry is taking into account the issue of the mothers who cannot produce enough milk for their babies.

Parents who have contacted Fijivillage say they are already affected as they have not been able to purchase any infant formula for the past few days after it was taken off the shelves due to the labeling issue.

Namotu said these are personal issues for the mothers but the government is trying its best to encourage breast feeding and healthy living.

Distributers of all infant milk formula and food products in the country will have to put the temporary labels on the formula cans before they are put back on the supermarket shelves.

The deadline was June 1st and the distributers have failed to comply with the new labeling which has led to the removal of the milk formula products from the shelves.

Story by: Vijay Narayan

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Fiji women CAN sew

from w
When I read many of the articles on-line by Fiji journalists I am amazed and annoyed that there is an assumption of ignorance by rural men and women, that they need to be taught, or shown how. Here is one where it is assumed that the women in Labasa need to be taught how to use sewing machines. Well, Fiji women CAN sew. A class is fine with a few new tricks such as cutting and designing, but already many women make their own clothes and clothes for their children. A sewing group has another function - socializing and that's good of course and they can pick up tips from one another just as much as from a teacher. Most Fiji Women are smarter than I am in designing and making clothes for sure.

From the Fiji Sun today:

A group of 12 unemployed mothers are attending a sewing class in Labasa. This is to help them in their livelihood. Fiji Multi-Ethnic Cultural Centre Labasa branch had begun offering sewing classes every Wednesday for women. This started two weeks ago simultaneously with the start of school Term Two.

Fiji Multi-Ethnic Cultural Centre Labasa branch administrator Prabha Naicker said all her students were unemployed mothers from various parts of Vanua Levu. “We have organised a sewing class to help women acquire sewing skills and use them to set up their businesses,” Mrs Naicker said.

She said the centre aimed to help the women generate income for their family and be self-sufficient. “Most of the women have sewing machines at home, but do not know how to use it well to sew beautiful clothes,” Mrs Naicker said. She said a sewing machine was a useful tool that could be used to generate income. “In the olden days, women used to sew their families’ outfits instead of buying them.”

Malia Koloa of Labasa, a participant, was happy with the course. “We are not only taught how to use sewing machines to sew clothes but also how to do cutting and designing,” Mrs Koloa said.