Monday, June 30, 2014

Fiji Box Hill rugby connection

from w
Good to see Youth with a Mission initiative with a connection to Fiji youth.

Box Hill Rugby Club welcomes 10 Fijian players on a mission with open arms

A group of talented Fijians are playing at Box Hill this year as part of the Island Breez
A group of talented Fijians are playing at Box Hill this year as part of the Island Breeze scholarship program Picture: Mark Dadswell
A SPECIAL rugby scholarship program has brought 10 young men from Fiji to Box Hill’s Sparks Reserve and the blossoming partnership has been a successful one for the young Fijians and the ladder-leading Box Hill Broncos.
Rugby Plus is an initiative of Island Breeze Australia - a ministry of Youth with a Mission, a not for profit Christian values-based organisation.
The program was born in 2006 with the aim of keeping young men in the Pacific islands and indigenous Australians off the streets while helping them become role models for their families and communities.
Program director Jade Baravilala said the program’s aims were summed up in the philosophy “your life off the field has to be as good as it is on the field”.
That is, the lessons learned on the sporting field must help develop character in young adults and, in turn, help the home communities.
“We’ve been going over there (Fiji) for a few years and running clinics,” Baravilala said. “(The players selected) have to have the skills and drive to go further with their rugby, but also have the desire to improve their character.”
On the field, the Fijians’ contribution has been staggering with Box Hill heading the Dewar Shield ladder — it’s best season in more than a decade. The Fijians’ pace and skills are leaving opposition teams in their wake.
“They grow up with a ball in their hands,” Baravilala said. “When they are born, they have a ball rather than a dummy. The top four try scorers are from Box Hill and they are our guys. Three of them have been chosen for the Melbourne Rising (Melbourne Rebels development team).”
Box Hill’s Savenaca Wagalutu, Greg Bauer, Filipe Koroibola and Sefa Naivalu have been nam
Box Hill’s Savenaca Wagalutu, Greg Bauer, Filipe Koroibola and Sefa Naivalu have been named in the Melbourne Rebels’ development squad Picture: Mark Dadswell
But, most importantly, the program does not end at the final whistle on match day.
Baravilala said the three main areas of concern for young men growing up in Fiji were drugs, domestic violence and low self-esteem.
Most of the guys, she said, had been touched by one or more of these problem areas.
The scholarship to Australia has given the young men a range of experiences that will help them build their own sense of self-worth.
While in Australia, as well as playing rugby, the men receive education in areas such as farming techniques, banking and finance.
Island Breeze hopes that these skills will be taken back to the players’ home villages.
“It’s great to watch villages transformed,” Baravilala said.
The costs and logistics involved in bringing so many players over to Melbourne for a lengthy scholarship stay are a constant challenge.
But, such is the success of the program, it has many supporters.
“The Box Hill club is very supportive of the boys,” Baravilala said. “They’ve been like family.
“We’ve had a huge amount of support from the Fijian community. We’ve definitely made headway with the funding, but we’ve still got a long way to go.”
As such, Island Breeze will be holding a big fundraising luau at Box Hill Rugby Club on Friday, July 11 with plenty of Fijian food and entertainment.
For more information about the luau and how to help the Island Breeze program, contact Jade Baravilala at 0412-683-673 or
Originally published as The Box Hill-Fiji connection

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Fiji Methodist Church launches newsletter

from w
From the facebook pages of the Fiji Methodist Church. These days they are doing a good job in improving communications by using social media, articles in the Fiji papers, and so on. Notice that the website has a download version of the new newsletter and you find it with the link  - Media.

Methodist Church launches newsletter... 

The Methodist Church's Standing Committee today received copies of the first issue of Nai Tabe, the Church's new newsletter. Produced by the Church's Department of Communication and Overseas Mission, Nai Tabe depicts the Church's renewed focus on being a servant, mission-focused church.

The name Nai Tabe was chosen by the Interim President of the Methodist Church, Rev. Laisiasa Ratabacaca and the Lay Vice President, Ratu Peni Volavola. In the I-Taukei language, Nai Tabe refers to a serving plate, or leaf on which food is served to guests.

"This newsletter is the plate on which the Secretariat of the Methodist Church in Fiji will serve our members," said Communication Secretaty, Rev. James Bhagwan.

"In Wesleyan tradition, the food will be for the mind, body and soul – providing news on the work of the church, events from the Methodist communities in Fiji and around the world, as well
as issues of concern for Methodists in our work for the sanctification of our society."

The issue is available as a free download from the Church's website and printed copies will be distributed to all divisions.

"Our sincere thanks to the contributors who supplied articles for this issue and for the hardworking editorial volunteers who have worked hard to put out a newsletter that is interesting, informative
and inspiring, as well as easy to read."
 (10 photos)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Geelong doctor helps in Fiji

from w
Here's another example of a connection between Geelong and Fiji - a doctor who goes to Fiji to help with and train doctors there in gastroenterology..
frm Geelong Advertiser 25th.

Geelong doctor teaches gastroenterology to local physicians in Fiji

·         NICOLE MILLS    GEELONG ADVERTISER        JUNE 25, 2014 12:00AM

Gastroenterologist Dr Christopher Hair with Fijian doctors and one of the donated endoscopes from Geelong Private Hospital.
TORQUAY doctor Chris Hair keeps a photo of a woman on his desk to remind him how much positive change one person can make in the world.
The photo shows of one of his Fijian patients, a mother of three young children, who weighed just 25kg due to oesophagus scarring that prevented her from eating or drinking.
On one of his many trips to the Pacific country with the Australian and New Zealand International Training Team, of which he is a co-director, the gastroenterologist used a simple procedure to dilate the oesophagus and save her life.“It’s something we do in Australia every day but they have never been able to do it there,” Dr Hair said.“She was facing death. That was the biggest thing for me, that she got better.”
When he returned to Fiji one year later he found her weighing a healthy 54kg, back at work and finally able to look after her kids again.

Senior doctor Jioji (right) is one of the most experienced doctors, and is now teaching his learnings to the new generation, whicih includes doctors from Micronesia.
Dr Hair has been travelling to Fiji with a small team of doctors and nurses to train local staff in gastroenterology since 2008.
Gastroenterology focuses on the digestive system including the liver, pancreas and intestines. It is an area of medicine that is “stock standard” in Australia but Dr Hair said it was underutilised in Fiji and other Pacific nations.
Often local doctors who train overseas might succumb to higher wages and choose not to return home or foreign medical teams who go there to treat patients leave no skills behind when they fly out.
“It was leaving a knowledge base deficit,” Dr Hair said “This program, it stops the brain drain.”
The team is preparing to return to Fiji’s capital Suva next month for another round of training. They will take with them a goldmine of donated equipment including a colonoscope from Geelong Private Hospital. Dr Hair said the program was having real benefits for patients with many gastroenterology problems now being diagnosed and treated early, saving patients from risky surgery or death.“It’s incredible,” Dr Hair said. “You can go for four weeks and make an enormous difference for a lifetime.”

The program has been so successful that it has already expanded to the Solomon Islands and Myanmar with Vanuatu also showing interest in adopting it. Dr Hair said he was inspired by the many other professionals from the Geelong region who were working to improve health outcomes through different international aid projects.

Monday, June 23, 2014

What comes first - home or thought for others?

from w
In a letter to the editor of the Fiji Times today, a writer says that political party hopefuls should concentrate on local issues, what's going on at home, and don't talk about other countries.  However I think concerned citizens can do both - local issues do take a priority but at the same time there needs to be an awareness of the lives of people in nearby countries such as the plight of the indigenous people of West Papua.  So when I see a protest by Fiji people when the President of Indonesia visits I think it is relevant to show a concerm rather than remain silent.  And leaders of the churches also spoke up about West Papua.

Ali joins fight

Siteri Sauvakacolo
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
ONE of the region's leading human rights activists, Shamima Ali, has called on Pacific Islanders to make a stand with their West Papuan brothers and sisters.
The Fiji Women's Crisis Centre executive director Shamima Ali joined a chorus of voices around the world by displaying posters to free the women and men whose rights have allegedly been violated by Indonesia.
Ms Ali said it was important to raise the seriousness of the matter. Her bid to raise this awareness and stand by the West Papuans seemed to have rubbed some members of the public the wrong way and Ms Ali claimed she was issued a directive by police to remove the posters.
Yesterday, Indonesian Embassy third secretary Berlian Epriliyana said they would release an official statement on the issue today.
Police chief operations officer ACP Rusiate Tudravu also said he would prefer not to make a comment on the issue.
"We put this up because we are a human rights-based organisation and we are also the chair for the NGO Coalition on Human Rights for Fiji and the Pacific and we have received quite disturbing reports about human rights abuses in West Papua from our contacts," Ms Ali said.
"Especially against women and young children and as part of the campaigns, this is why we felt we should put down something like this as part of the campaign on human rights."
Plea for West Papua
Tevita Vuibau
Friday, June 20, 2014
CHURCHES in Fiji and the region are throwing their voices behind self determination for West Papua. Their support comes as the PIDF hosts Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at its second summit in Nadi this week.
Indonesia has maintained rule in West Papua since 1969 and has in the past been accused of widespread human rights abuses. There have also been claims that Indonesia holds political prisoners from West Papua with some jailed simply for attending flag raising ceremonies of the West Papuan flag — the Morning Star. And with Mr Yudhoyono in the country, churches are making their opinions known in the hope of encouraging dialogue on West Papua.
Pacific Conference of Churches General Secretary, Reverend Francois Pihaatae acknowledged Mr Yudhoyono's visit was a sign of PIDF's growing profile. Yet he advised caution. "The glamour of State visits must never undermine the community's responsibility to search for the truth," Mr Pihaatae said. "And regional governments must not let Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's presence at the PIDF cloud their judgment on the issue of self-determination in West Papua."
He said the visit could be attributed to Indonesia furthering its Pacific interests but questioned whether it was also influenced by growing regional support for West Papua and a push to usurp Australia and New Zealand from their traditional seats of Pacific power. "Where our self-determination interests are concerned, whether it be in the areas of governance, development and security, or our firm support for West Papuan freedom, we cannot allow the State visit to cloud our prudence and better judgment."
The Methodist Church in Fiji said its immediate concerns was human rights abuses in West Papua and called for action from leaders. Church spokesman James Bhagwan said they understood Fiji was strengthening ties with Indonesia but also pointed out its close relationship with fellow MSG member PNG.
Anglican Archbishop of Polynesia Winston Halapua said the time for complacency on West Papua was over. "We cannot in this part of the world say that is out there — no they are part of us — the leadership has to come from inside and their part is to be clear what they ask of us."
In his speech to the PIDF yesterday Mr Yudhoyono said Indonesia believed that "peaceful settlement of disputes; abiding respect for norms and principles that govern inter-state relations; and respect for universal democratic values, an alternative vision of a world at peace and in prosperity — a pacific world — is attainable." He also told Indonesian paper The Jakarta Post that he would address the issue of West Papua at the PIDF summit. "Therefore, we hope the matters on Papua, which are often internationalised by certain elements, can be overcome by, among other things, establishing strong and good ties with the countries of the South Pacific," he said. He also said he would use the forum to reduce misinformation and disinformation on the West Papua issue.

Youth conference in Suva

from w
I'm pleased to see a Youth Conference being organised in Suva with representatives from many parts of Fiji. including from babasiga land. Best wishes to the young people who attend.   From Fiji Village toay.
Young people to converge for Youth Conference today
Tuesday, 24/06/2014

File Photo
More than 500 young people from the four divisions in Fiji including Rotuma would be converging in Suva for a three day National Youth and Sports Conference as part of Youth Day celebrations.
The Ministry of Youth and Sports will be hosting the conference at the Vodafone Arena which starts tomorrow with the theme ‘Strengthening Youth in Decision Making Processes’.
Ministry permanent secretary Josefa Sania said the three day conference will be packed with powerful sessions from selected speakers on issues aimed at influencing youth to make informed choices in life, including issues relating to health, environment, sports, human rights, leadership and ethics.
He said the ministry has decided that instead of the usual youth day celebrations, a conference would be organized with the sole purpose of empowering young people.
Sania added this will culminate in an awards night on June 26, the last day of the conference.
The Minister for Youth and Sports Viliame Naupoto will officially open the National Youth and Sports Conference.
Story by Filipe Naikaso

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Pacific Islanders prominent in the Uniting Church

Our Uniting Church birthday service was at St Andrews' East Geelong, led by ministers - Rev Sani (from Samoa) and Rev Ikani (from Tonga). The Pacific Islanders are keeping the church alive it seems! Five congregations gathered together. It was formal with the addition of a play, a gospel action chorus by the Uniting youth (a Samoan slap dance) a lovely choir piece by people from Leopold, and instead of a sermon the two ministers engaged in a conversation about the two lectionary readings. The organist who is about 95 played the excellent pipe organ, a Fincham ,and still knows which stops to pull out! Afterwards we had a shared lunch in the hall and there was lots of talanoa with catching up with friends.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

About purchasing land in Vanua Levu

Eparama Kelo, a retired teacher, said a Fiji newspaper had recently reported that the plan was to bring in 18,000 to 20,000 Kiribatis to Vanua Levu. Credit: Christopher Pala/IPS
Eparama Kelo, a retired teacher, said a Fiji newspaper had recently reported that the plan was to bring in 18,000 to 20,000 Kiribatis to Vanua Levu. Credit: Christopher Pala/IPS

from w
When I read about this in a Fiji on-line news media, it gave very few details but in this article it is clearer that the land purchased by the Kiribati people is fraught with difficulties.

Kiribati President Purchases ‘Worthless’ Resettlement Land as Precaution Against Rising Sea

NAVIAVIA, Fiji, Jun 9 2014 (IPS) - You can count the inhabitants of this isolated, tidy village of multi-coloured houses and flower bushes among global warming’s first victims – but not in the usual sense.
They are descendants of labourers from the Solomon Islands who came to Fiji to work on the coconut plantations in the 19th century. In 1947, they were invited to move onto a large one called the Natoavatu Estate that the Anglican Church once inherited and were told they could stay there indefinitely as long as they practiced the Anglican faith.
In late May, the Church sold most of the 2331.3-hectare estate to the island nation of Kiribati, leaving the 270 villagers, who said they used 283 hectares to feed themselves, with only 125 hectares.
“We can’t live on just 300 acres [125 hectares],” said the village headman, Sade Marika.
Anote Tong, the president of Kiribati, said he bought land in Vanua Levu, Fiji’s second-largest island, so that his 103,000 people will have some high ground to go to when a rising sea makes his nation of 33 low-lying coral atolls unliveable. Credit: Christopher Pala/IPS
Anote Tong, the president of Kiribati, said he bought land in Vanua Levu, Fiji’s second-largest island, so that his 103,000 people will have some high ground to go to when a rising sea makes his nation of 33 low-lying coral atolls unliveable. Credit: Christopher Pala/IPS
Kiribati’s president, Anote Tong, said he bought the land so that his 103,000 people will have some high ground to go to when a rising sea makes his nation of 33 low-lying coral atolls unliveable.
“We would hope not to put everyone on [this] one piece of land, but if it became absolutely necessary, yes, we could do it,” he told the Associated Press.
For years, Tong has claimed in climate change conferences and in interviews that sea-level rise was already claiming a heavy toll on his people, eroding beaches, destroying buildings and crops, forcing the evacuation of a village and wiping out an entire island.
His views are echoed by Conservation International, a large NGO based near Washington, D.C., on whose board Tong sits. The residents of “Kiribati, where the effects of rising sea levels already are being felt, [are] on the front lines of climate change,” says its website.
In Tarawa, Kiribati’s overcrowded capital island where half the population of 103,000 lives, Tong often warns in speeches that climate change will destroy their homeland but that he is working hard to obtain compensation from the countries that caused it.
Kiribati, with a per-capita income of 1,600 dollars, receives more foreign aid per capita than any other Pacific nation.
This year, the government organised a competition for the best song on climate change. The refrain of the winning song, frequently played in English on the state radio, is “The angry sea will kill us all.”
But while Tong’s warnings of impending doom for atoll dwellers have brought him a measure of fame abroad and even a panel that nominated him for a Nobel Peace Prize, in Kiribati they elicit confusion in some people and derision in others.
“I don’t think he did a proper valuation. And it’s clear the government doesn’t have any idea of what it’s going to do with the property now.” -- former Kiribati president, Teburoro Tito

“A lot of people now worry about climate change,” said Tealoy Pupu, a 20-year-old student, as she lay pandanus leaves out to dry. “We just don’t know what to think.”
Tong’s predecessor as president, Teburoro Tito, had read the scientific studies on atoll dynamics. “The scientists tell us that our reefs are healthy and can grow and rise with the sea level, so there is absolutely no need to buy land in Fiji or anywhere else,” he said emphatically. “How can we ask for foreign aid when we spend our own money on such foolish things?”
“We know that the whole reef structure can grow at 10 to 15 mm a year, which is faster than the expected sea-level rise,” confirmed Paul Kench, an atoll geo-morphologist at the University of Auckland.
“As long as the reef is growing and you have an abundant supply of sand, there’s no reason reef growth can’t keep up with sea-level rise.”
Kench and others also say that sea-level rise has had no effect so far on any Pacific atoll. They say that common images of waves crashing into homes give a false impression of permanent flooding when in fact they are caused by inappropriate shoreline modifications like seawalls to protect land reclaimed from the sea or by building causeways between islands.
In Vanua Levu, Fiji’s second-largest island, where the property Tong bought is located, an examination of the sales deeds of comparable parcels revealed that Kiribati paid four times more per acre than other buyers in the last few years.
Tito, the former president, said he believed that the 8.7-million-dollar purchase had been done solely for publicity purposes to highlight Tong’s far-sightedness and how seriously he takes climate change. “I don’t think he did a proper valuation,” he said. “And it’s clear the government doesn’t have any idea of what it’s going to do with the property now.”
In his announcement of the completion of the sale, Tong said a committee would be appointed to study what should be done with the land. In a separate statement, the government said the purchase marked “a new milestone” in its “development plans, which include exploring options of commercial, industrial and agricultural undertakings such as fish canning, beef/poultry farming, fruit and vegetable farming.”
Tong, through his spokesman, Rimon Rimon, declined all comment.
Tetawa Tatai, a former health minister and a member of parliament, said he was shocked that the Church of England, which he called “one of the most trusted institutions in the world,” would “gouge one of the poorest and most isolated countries in the world.”
In an interview in Suva, Bishop Winston Hanapua, Archbishop of the Polynesian Diocese of the Anglican Church, denied that the church had taken advantage of an inexperienced buyer widely believed to be representing the world’s first climate refugees.
On the contrary, he said, “I felt good about the whole thing because Kiribati is part of my jurisdiction. We were open for any offer, and there was an offer.”
Back in Naviavia, the Solomon Islander Anglican minister, Koroi Salacieli, complained that the Church had given him no clear notion of how many Kiribatis would be coming into their midst.
He, other villagers and an outside expert agreed that the property, of which two thirds is covered by densely forested steep hills, could only support a few hundred more people.
These would need housing and lengthy training to learn how to practice Fiji’s agriculture, which involves using bullocks to plough the land. In Kiribati, there is no agriculture to speak of: rice, canned meat and fresh fish form the mainstay of the diet.
Eparama Kelo, a retired teacher, said a Fiji newspaper had recently reported that the plan was to bring in 18,000 to 20,000 Kiribatis. “What are we going to do if they come?” he asked disconsolately.
Christopher Pala is a Washington-based journalist whose trip to the Pacific was supported by a grant from the Fund for Investigative Journalism.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Australian tourist gives birth in Nadi taxi

from w
Although there's usually a travel advisory not to travel on a plane when 7 months pregnant, one tourist did get her doctor's permission to fly in order to attend a friend's wedding in Fiji.  However the baby didn't read this and hurried to be born in a Nadi taxi!  One thing puzzles me though about the story - why do they need $60,000 to get back to Australia?  Even without medical insurers coming up with medivac for them, it should only be the cost of a ticket for the baby, plus accommodation in perhaps Denarau for  few weeks waiting for the baby to gain weight. It's not good to put a small baby on a plane because of the pressure so they should wait perhaps six weeks.. but I think there's some exaggeration here regarding the $60.000.. Nadi hospital wouldn't charge much would they?  Maybe the taxi driver charged a bit extra!

From Daily Mail Austraia.
'I was so fearful our baby would die': Australian mother who's stranded in Fiji with premature baby relives 'horrendous' moment she gave birth in back of a taxi

·         Sydney couple Jayne and Ashley Wren flew to Fiji last week for a friend's wedding after getting the all clear from a doctor.   Jayne gave birth to her first child in the back of a taxi in Nadi, Fiji
·         'By the time we reached the front of Nadi Hospital, her head was out,' she said on Sunday as she described the traumatic birth.  Maddison Jayne Cazna Wren was born at 33 weeks at 1.7kg 
·         Medical expenses, accommodation and flights for the baby won't be covered by travel insurance
·         An online campaign has been launched to help cover the $60,000 needed to transport Maddi home.

PUBLISHED: 17:39 AEST, 8 June 2014 | UPDATED: 18:49 AEST, 9 June 2014
A mother, who is desperately trying to raise the $60,000 needed to fly her and her premature daughter home to Australia, has described the 'horrendous' moment she began giving birth in the back of a taxi on the streets of Nadi, Fiji.
'I was so fearful that our baby would die,' she told Daily Mail Australia from Fiji, where she is stranded until they can afford to bring their newborn home - and their baby is strong enough to travel.
Jayne and Ashley Wren weren't expecting to be parents until July, so they did not obtain travel insurance that covered the cost of their baby being born while they were overseas for a friend's wedding last week.
'The experience of giving birth in the back of a taxi was horrendous to say the least... This being my first baby, being in a foreign country and not knowing that the labor was progressing so quickly,' Mrs Wren explained.

The Sydney couple are now stranded in Fiji they as they did not obtain travel insurance that covered the cost of their baby being born. Recounting the terrifying moment she went into labour early, she said: 'By the time we reached the front of Nadi Hospital, her head was out and I managed to get from the back seat of the taxi to a stretcher bed, where I gave birth on all fours to my baby girl.
'She literally fell out under my dress on to the mattress of the bed... My husband had to try and catch her... It all happened so fast.'
Mrs Wren tried her hardest not to give into contractions but it was no use.
'Everything inside my head in the back of that cab said "don't push"... but when you are in labor, your body just takes over and it just knows what to do.'
Maddison Jayne Cazna Wren arrived early at 33 weeks at 1.7kg and was placed on an incubator at Nadi Hospital.
'The difficulties we are facing at the moment are that she is too small to fly weighing in today at just 1.65kg,' Mrs Wren said on Sunday.
'She is under the blue ray lights in the incubator at the moment being treated for jaundice, and we will hopefully be able to turn those blue lights off tomorrow or Tuesday. 
'Then she has to have the temperature in the humidicrib turned down bit by bit to see if she can tolerate the outside air temperature by herself. This will take another few days. The great news is that she can breath by herself.'
Maddison Jayne Cazna Wren was born at 33 weeks at 1.7kg and remains in an incubator at Nadi Hospital The father of Maddison, Ashley Wren, was a groomsman at his friend's wedding in Nadi and wasn't expecting to be a father so soon
The couple had flown to Fiji after being granted full permission by doctors in Sydney.
An online campaign has been launched by their friend to help bring baby Maddi home and cover the medical expenses for the newborn.
Being so far from home, Mrs Wren is eternally grateful to the staff at Nadi hospital. 
'The treatment for our beautiful daughter at Nadi Hospital has been so amazing. We are lucky enough to have been blessed with an Australian/Fijian doctor by the name of Sai Misi Misi. He is extremely knowledgeable being a pediatrician and has had a lot of experience with premature babies having worked in Australia for a number of years.
'The nursing staff have been so wonderfully loving and caring, and they are totally mesmerised by having a white baby in their care, which is something they don't get to experience very often,' she explained.
The family are now waiting not only to raise enough money to bring Maddi home but also for her to be strong enough to fly.
An online campaign has launched to help transport Maddi home, which is believed to cost at least $60,000.
'To bring Maddi home we need her to be well enough to fly in an open bassinette (which is Doctor Sai's preference over bringing the humidicrib on the plane with us) and to be able to cope with the cabin pressure of the plane.'
The couple may be miles from their friends and family at home but on Monday Mrs Wren's siter flew in to Fiji to help out.And she brought with her some much needed clothes for baby Maddi.
'She was able to bring with her a couple of little 0000 Bonds wondersuits and some little singlets for Maddison to wear, which are huge on her, but they were the smallest ones she could find.
'My beautiful friend Angela who happens to have a five month old baby and was at the wedding with us gave us a pink snuggle blanket, some of her baby's nappies and some wipes to get us through the first couple pf days until we could buy some things for her ourselves. Also, the beautiful staff at the hospital and the Shearaton Denerau gave us some of their own baby clothes.'
Mrs Wren's friend Angela Allison is the person in charge of setting up the fundraising page, which has so far seen almost $7,000 raised to bring Maddi home.
However, the current amount is still a long way off the $60,000 needed to cover Maddi's medical bills and travel costs, plus the extra accommodation and flights for the medic to travel with them.
Medical expenses, accommodation and flights for the baby won't be covered by travel insurance
Ms Allison told Daily Mail Australia the new parents have been overwhelmed by support from friends, family and strangers.
'Now that a few Aussie celebs have retweeted we are gaining donations from strangers,' she said. 'Initially it was just friends and family of Ash and Jay and people who read about it via the shared Facebook link. It's so exciting to watch the amount raise and to think about how much this is going to mean for them.'
To donate, click here.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Voter registration for the Fiji election

from w
They are certainly spending a lot of money rolling into the election in September, even oveseas such as Australia. A few months ago we helped the team in Geelong with their afternoon/evening of registrations.  However though the team members were very professional they really didn't get a lot of numbers. Maybe publicity didn't reach everyone eligible and some live in remote locations.  Fiji people in Australia have several reasons not to register - maybe apathy, maybe thinking the Fiji irrelevant now that they live in Australia permanently, or that the election won't be fair anyway, or maybe other personal reasons.  Anyway the registration team are having another go, at cost of course, and I wonder if they will really get more attention this round.
Voter registration in Australia to continue this month
Saturday, 07/06/2014

The Fiji Elections Office will be conducting the second round of Voter Registration in Australia from the 21st to 26th of this month.
Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem said the Elections Office has been working closely with the Fijian High Commission in Canberra and also with Fijians in Australia to undertake the exercise.
He said the teams would also be able to replace lost Electronic Voter Registration cards, make changes to the details such as addresses and also do new registrations.
In the February leg of registration, 664 Fijians were registered.
Story by Filipe Naikaso

Friday, June 06, 2014

A gift for Kia islanders

from w
Lucky ducks, to be given a lovely new boat but of course the Kia Islanders do need such transport to get here and there. Kia is an island west of Mali Island and the people are mainly a fishing tribe.  However there is a catch, giving gifts at this time from the regime is certainly a way to catch attention and obtain favour and maybe votes in the forthcoming election. The PM takes all the credit for the gift, but isn't that what government departments just do anyway!  The boat might be free but there's the expense of petrol and the upkeep and repairs later on down the track. And where is the financial statement to show the Fiji people the cost of the  gifts given throughout the countryside?  The next generation will have to repay the loans from China of course.
From the Fiji Times today:

Boat gift excites islanders

Salaseini Moceiwai
Saturday, June 07, 2014
LIFE has been made easier for teachers and students of Kia Island in Macuata after the Prime Minister's Office handed over a fibreglass boat together with necessary gear yesterday.
Prior to this, islanders travelling to Labasa would pay about $200 for the trip, which was an expensive exercise.
While accepting the gifts, Kia schoolteacher Rupeni Seduadua said their prayers had been answered as they had been hoping for a boat for the past two-and-a-half years.
"Words can't express how happy we are now that we have our own school boat," Mr Seduadua said.
"We thank the Prime Minister, Rear Admiral (Ret) Voreqe Bainimarama for considering our request as this boat will greatly assist us in terms of transportation.
"Now, we don't have to fork out extra money for boat hires."
Director development corporation and facilitation division in the PM's office Salimone Karusi said this was another initiative aimed at improving the lives of ordinary Fijians in rural and maritime zones.
"This $23,600 government-funded project is proposed for Kia District School and we hope that it will assist them in transportation," he said.
"Now teachers and students will not have to worry about their transport to Labasa as they have their own boat."