Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Prayers in a hospital

An intersting point is raised in this article in Fiji Village today. It seems that people are going into hospital wards and praying for patients whether they like it or not. Obviously the question of privacy is an issue and also consent.
Prayer sessions only allowed if requested by patients
By Vijay Narayan
Wednesday 22/02/2017

The Ministry of Health and Medical Services has clarified that prayer sessions are only allowed in hospitals in cases where the patients or the relatives specifically request for spiritual healing.When asked by Fijivillage, the ministry says this is not imposed on anyone and it is only provided based on the request of the patients and their relatives.
However some family members of patients admitted at the CWM Hospital have raised issues regarding patients being prayed over by people coming around the hospital to pray.

A female patient raised concern that a woman just came into the ward and started praying and pressed her painful leg which made matters worse.The patient’s friend had to tell the woman praying to stop as the female patient was in extreme pain.It has been confirmed that the woman did not ask the patient for her permission.

Another father raised an issue that he spent the night with his son at the hospital’s Children’s Ward and a prayer of a particular religious group was broadcast on the PA system. This was done at about 6pm on that day.

Another family has raised the issue that a prayer group wanted to come and pray over a stroke patient.When the family refused, the prayer group started saying that it was not a stroke but the devil was in the patient.

Freedom of religion is guaranteed in the constitution and it is clearly stated that no one should force a particular religion on another person. When asked by Fijivillage, the Health Ministry says that it will look will into this issue as the ministry has a guideline in place in terms of attending to the requests for prayer sessions, which is put forward through the hospital’s Medical Superintendent’s Office.
The office then does the verification in terms of the requests made and also the prayer groups that attend to the requests.

The Health Ministry stresses that patients have every right to refuse any prayer and ward managers are aware of this and patients and relatives are encouraged to liaise with ward managers on this and they often do The ministry says respecting patient privacy and dignity is always of importance and is prioritised in all their hospital services.
I looked up some websites on protocols for hospital visiting and summarised some points I read.
What are the protocols about visiting sick people and prayer?
Sometimes it can be difficult to visit a patient in the hospital, but you can have a positive influence on them, whether they are your friend, family, church member. Listed below are some simple visitor guidelines.
Do ask your patient's or other family member’s permission to visit before you arrive. If they prefer you not visit, ask them if another day would be better, or if they would prefer you visit once they get home. Many patients love visitors, but some just don't feel up to it.
Do wash your hands and sanitize them before and after you touch the patient.
Only take flowers as long as you know your patient isn't allergic to them, and is in a room by themselves.. If your patient shares a hospital room, the other person may have allergies.
Do consider alternatives to flowers: a card, something a child has made for you give to the patient, a book to read, a crossword puzzle book, are good choices.
Do turn off your cell phone, or at least turn the ringer off.
Do stay for a short time..
Do leave the room if the doctor or provider arrives to examine or talk to the patient.
Do not ask intimate questions about the particular illness, respect the privacy of the patient.
Don't enter the hospital if you have any symptoms that could be contagious.
Don't take young children to visit unless it's absolutely necessary.
Don't take food to your patient unless you know the patient can tolerate it.
Don't expect the patient to entertain you. Your friend or church member is there to heal and get healthy again, not to talk or keep you occupied. It may be better for your patient to sleep or rest than to carry a conversation with you. If you ask them before you visit, gauge their tone of voice as well as the words they use. They may try to be polite, but may prefer solitude instead of a visit.
Do not chat with other visitors and ignore the patient.
Ask the patient if he or she would like you to pray.
Don't stay home, on the other hand, because you assume your friend or church member prefers you to not visit. You won't know until you ask.
Sorry, that looks like a bossy kind of list. Really pastoral visits are different for each situation - a teenage athlete, an elderly woman on sedation, an emotional man terrified of the outcome of surgery, and so on. I'm not a chaplain or nurse, and haven't been a patient in a hospital for 46 years! But I have experienced visitors when bereaved and oh sobosobo some do it well, others do not. I think it's mainly a matter of being sensitive to the needs of the person for re-assurance, for calm, for honesty but most of all to know that God is alongside them so prayer, Bible reading of familiar verses, and especially the texts of favourite songs such as 'In heavenly love abiding' or the Aaronic blessing, all can give comfort. So you don't rattle of stories or prayers, but be in attitude of quietness and reflection. It's a time of emotions rather than preaching.

Looking back - my life as a teacher

My life as a teacher

Looking back on the variety of experiences in different schools and places I realize that there were times of failure as well as positive interaction with teenage students.  Here are some of the memories of those times. I taught mainly art and music, but in Fiji added Scripture, English, History which I energised by writing plays, adding artwork and creative writing.

The first appointment was at Bendigo High School  in an annex with Forms 1,2,3,4 art and some music with a piano.  Forty children to a class was a handful but that was the norm then.  We had adequate material for painting, drawing, even pottery, the latter not successful as we had an ordinary room and clay requires a specific type of room to be able to keep clean and tidy and the school cleaner was not exactly my friend.  Work was done quickly, the students producing many paintings on newsprint, too hurried now I realize.

I went to Fiji in 1962 and taught in a variety of secondary schools, mainly at a Methodist school in Suva called Dudley High School, When we lived in Rakiraki I taught part-time because of giving birth to two little boys by then.  I became an English language teacher there and being the second language of the children they struggled with Shakespeare and so on but we got along well. Peceli was manager of a Methodist Primary School and we both taught Scripture there (unpaid of course) including participating in the celebrations when Fiji became independent in 1970.

Pictures are of view from Dudley teachers' house, Dudley school, view from my two rooms in Toorak, Suva. 
One year, living at Dilkusha when Peceli was part of a team ministry in the Indo-Fijian community, I took the bus to Suva to teach at Dudley – the whole school in stints of half an hour turnover – crazy as this included tie-dying, batik, stencilling, all sorts of things,  and Marist where I taught screen printing in the science room, blunting their precious knives. We had some good excursions those days, taking groups of teenagers down to the Museum or to a graphic art designer’s studio.

We moved to Peceli’s home-town of Labasa in 1972 and I again became a part-time teacher and the Ratawa family helped by looking after George, Robin and Andrew at home. One successful project was screen printing  at All Saints School in Labasa,  making our own printing ink with Dylon dye mixed into the paste made from boiling cassava vegetables.  Our students won all the major prizes in a national art competition so I took a group down to Suva for the prize-giving. I lost interest in teaching there though when a Hindu principal replaced the missionary head of that Anglican school and he was very dismissive of the Christian religion.
When we migrated to Australia we first went to Swan Hill and I got a short-term teaching appointment at Swan Hill Tech.  Art work in schools by then had slowed down to producing more careful, detailed, paced work, and I got stuck into lino-cuts with the students with great equipment and good results.  They were beaut students. I also taught a few students to play the piano as they had a grand piano in the school.

At Hopetoun my career as an art teacher plummeted as I wasn’t given art, but craft, using a redundant metalwork room, still with the Bunsen burners set into the benches. I decided that pottery was not on without a better room and a kiln, so ended up attempting to teach crafts such as metalwork and leatherwork, not very successfully. I wasn’t interested and passionate about it.  By then I was tired of trying to do three jobs – as the wife of a clergyman, a home-maker with three young children and as a teacher so I decided to stay at home, but of course not long after I went back to study off-campus at Deakin University in Geelong.

My life as a student

I can say that I enjoyed being a student always, more than the task of being a  teacher.  The training college years at Prahran Tech,  RMIT, Fine Arts at Melbourne University were three brilliant years, even going out to secondary schools loaded up with teaching aids was fulfilling. Then at Bendigo I spent four evenings a week at Bendigo Tech aiming to fulfil the requirements of Diploma of Art majoring in pottery. Fellow-students were mainly younger or my age – I was 20 when I started there.  It was a joyful time.

Years later, Deakin University in Geelong offered study off-campus so I started one subject called ‘Australian City’ when we lived in Hopetoun. I was lucky to be able to change to on-campus when Peceli was appointed to the East Geelong parish.  We did not only make very large drawings and painting but also photography, life drawing, and so on – all at the old RSL Mill building at the bottom of Pakington Street. To fulfil the requirements of the BA I took the bus out to Waurn Ponds campus to add anthropology and ethnic music subjects which I continued to Masters level. l loved research, the lectures in music, including a stint on Pacific music at Monash, and then I collected songs in a few weeks fieldwork  in Fiji for my thesis. There was no cost then for study – only a small student fee. I was very fortunate to do the MA then.  There were conferences also where I gave a few small lectures and mixed with the elite of the world’s top ethnomusicologists. Hmm. They mainly revamped their early research and were mainly disappointing.

Later I caught the Newcomb bus to many classes at the Gordon TAFE in Geelong, some about IT, working with images on the computer, professional writing and editing, some excellent creative writing classes. The cost was minimal then, so different to the year 2017 for TAFE subjects.  I wrote many poems, short stories, drafts of novels, and edited about ten little books.

Then came the time to stay at home more, examine the untidiness of the home base, start writing without the network of fellow-students, no longer catch the bus every second day.  I miss the interaction with students of various ages and the stimulation of hearing their stories, seeing their artwork. So  now it became just writing on two blogs – Babasiga and Geelong Visual Diary, and also mostly daily updates of trivia on facebook.

Going to school rain or shine

Crossing the river in full uniform these kids are intent on getting to school by crossing a flooded river. Their school books are kept dry inside a pot!  from the Fiji Times:
Luke Rawalai's efforts in writing a piece titled Struggle to school in The Fiji Times (20/02, page 4) did not go unnoticed.

Children of Vatulovona village and Seniwaloa settlement struggle against the current assisted by parents to get to school. Picture: LUKE RAWALAI
Children of Vatulovona village and Seniwaloa settlement struggle against the current assisted by parents to get to school. Picture: LUKE RAWALAI

The picture of the schoolchildren seen smiling and holding hands to support each other to cross the river is an epitome of the many struggles that children in rural areas go through for education.
Despite the strong current and risk to life, the children put on a brave smile as they were pictured.
The picture also reflects the beauty about living in multiracial societies where people are seen to be caring and thoughtful about others.
I am glad the children were supervised closely by their parents who held on to them.
What shocked me was that the primary schoolchildren had to endure wet uniforms and the cold river water.
According to the article, 100 students were unable to go to school after two weeks of constant flooding and parents were cautious about sending their children to school.
If this is true then something has to be done because these children need to attend school daily.
Government is enforcing the importance of children attending school by providing many initiatives.
The parents also claim that they pack their children's stationery in a pot and swim across the river with their children. These parents are risking their lives battling the cold and strong currents to get to the other side.
I hope that the FRA would address the issue with the residents at Vatulovona Village and nearby Seniwaloa settlement and reach an amicable solution.
I have been a victim of not being able to attend school when the Wainikoro River used to flood because we could not use the boat that transported us to school.
This article brought back some of those memories.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Giving birth after heavy rain in Fiji

In the nick of time

Felix Chaudhary
Thursday, February 09, 2017
A 33-year-old woman who bravely swam across a flooded creek and was rescued by police while having contractions, is just glad she was delivered to the Lautoka Hospital "in the nick of time".
Senibuli Tikoimoala was in labour for five hours but her family could not transport her to hospital because of a flooded Irish crossing at Paipai, Lautoka.
"I started having labour pains at 5am and although I had crossed a flooded road, the current at the crossing was too strong," she shared.
"As the pain increased, family members in desperation made an emergency call to 919 and asked police to help transport me to hospital. I was worried and scared.
"When the police arrived, they couldn't bring their vehicle across the flooded creek so there was nothing else to do but swim across.
"When I was in the police car, the officers kept me in high spirits by joking. They kept saying that I had to be strong and that if I gave birth in their car, they would take it upon themselves to name the baby."
The police officers ferried Mrs Tikoimoala to an ambulance that was waiting on the Queens Rd.
"Within minutes of our arrival at the hospital, I gave birth to my beautiful and healthy 4kg baby girl.
"She is my sixth child and our family has decided to name her Vasemaca Naqiri after one of our grandmothers."
Mrs Tikoimoala resides in Tabataba, Ba, but had decided to wait out the latter stages of her pregnancy at her brother's home in Paipai.
Mother and baby are recovering well and eagerly awaiting discharge from the hospital and a warm reunion with family.
"This is one pregnancy that I will never forget because of what I went through to deliver Vasemaca.
"But I thank God for keeping me safe and I also thank police for coming to my aid."

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

A good letter to the editor

Here's a good letter to the Fiji Times this week:


Arvind Mani,Martintar, Nadi | Monday, February 6, 2017
Let's face it. We are living in a digital age, and there is absolutely no going back. One of the biggest influences on society these days in both a positive and negative way is social media. Social media was originally designed to allow people to share interesting facets of their lives with their friends, but it has become so much more. It's how information gets passed around the globe now. In many cases, people first learn about current events through the Twitter or Facebook before hearing about it from conventional news sources. 

We also have come to rely on our technological devices for nearly everything we do. People these days seem as if they can't go anywhere or do anything without their smart phones, tablets, laptops, etc. They need to be in constant contact with others via electronic devices.
But, there is also a downside to being too connected to social media and devices that deliver them. We can become too dependent on them or we can become immune to what we are doing to ourselves in our lives. All of this can have a negative effect on our lives and on society as a whole, how we are being negatively impacted as a society.
Facebook is eating away at your time.
How much time do you spend each day on Facebook or other social media sites? Is it cutting into your productivity? Do you find yourself just wasting time to the point that you don't even know where it went? If the answers are yes, I bet you're not alone.
We've become "Likeaholics."
Speaking of Facebook when you post something, are you doing it just to see how many of your friends give it the proverbial thumbs up. This illustration shows that some people are treating "Likes" on Facebook as if it was a drug they needed to have injected into their bloodstream for them to feel good about themselves. Do you have such low self-esteem that you get depressed if you do not have enough "likes"?
Our devices are ruining intimacy.
Have you and a loved one ever spent time together where both of you are on your smart phones texting, tweeting, Facebooking or surfing other websites instead of communicating with each other? Is society getting to the point where we can't even be intimate with each other without being on our phones or iPads at the same time?
Families aren't spending quality time together.
If a mother is making holiday sweets with her family, what do the kids do?
They're not making sweets with mom. Instead, the children have their faces buried in their own electronic devices.
It used to be that parents used the television to babysit their kids. Now, it's a tablet, phone, laptop or video game that does the job.
We'd rather record someone than help them.
If a man is drowning or is involved in an accident, and is reaching out for help, it is more likely that someone has an iPhone pointed at him and is recording it rather than helping save this man.
In the end, with all of this, we are still killing the planet.
Despite all of our technological gains, we are still polluting Earth to the point that we have a virtual gun pointed at mother nature.
The clueless Trump seems too dumb to realise the disastrous impact of climate change.
It is my fervent hope that he can get some common sense and listen to our prime minister instead of childishly tweeting away with reckless abandon.
As we build bigger cities and pollute more, how much damage can we continue to do without it being fatal for all of us?

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Artist living in a car at Balyang Sanctuary

Balyang Sanctuary is a lovely part of Geelong, part of the Barwon River environment and a good place for drawing. But here's a surprising story of a woman who lived in her car there and did drawings. The story ran in the Age newspaper and I've only copied part of the story.
Open Canvas puts disadvantaged artists in the frame
Next to the swaying gums and green grass of Balyang Sanctuary on Geelong's Barwon River sits a 1973 HQ Kingswood.She's seen better years – orange paint peeling, in need of a good mechanic – but somehow, she has made it through.This is Jacqui's home. She moved into her car after years spent running from abuse. It's also her studio.
It takes Jacqui about a week to complete each of her intricate, breathtaking drawings, in fine ink pen, of street scenes and parkways. She used to sell these drawings by the side of the road for $10 – "just enough to keep my car going".
But on Tuesday her work will hang on the gallery walls of fortyfivedownstairs – a stone's throw away from where rough sleepers were recently moved on from Flinders Street Station – along with works from 18 other homeless and disadvantaged artists.The exhibition has been organised by Open Canvas, a new, Melbourne-based social enterprise that offers pathways for homeless and disadvantaged artists to sell their work.

Friday, February 03, 2017

Young refugee deported too quickly

A young refugee faked a passport and flew to Fiji frm PNG and ten days later was deported back. But the story of his terrible experiences throughout his life didn't have a chance to be told in order to ask for asylum.  The police were too quick.

Sawari’s deportation concerns Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission
By Semi Turaga
Saturday 04/02/2017

The Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission Director Ashwin Raj.
The Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission has expressed its disappointment after the deportation of Iranian Loghman Sawari.
Director Ashwin Raj says they are concerned that the decision made by the Immigration Department has the possibility of exposing Loghman Sawari to inhuman and degrading treatment.
Raj says it is clear that from this incident that Immigration and Police officers would benefit from training on the Refugee Convention and international human rights laws.
He also says that it is a matter of national shame that political leaders, Biman Prasad of the NFP and Fiji Labour Party’s Mahendra Chaudhry cashed into this situation for political gain by invoking fears of national security and enormous burden on the Immigration Department.

He has also called on the government to review our immigration and border control laws through the Justice, Law and Human Rights Parliamentary Standing Committee.
Raj met with the Permanent Secretary for Immigration and was informed that discussions were held between the PNG and Fijian governments on Wednesday.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Sebastian sings Fijian songs

Good on you Sebastian.
from the Fiji Times:

Sebastian's passion for iTaukei songs

Felix Chaudhary
Thursday, February 02, 2017
SEBASTIAN James still vividly remembers the day he received a telephone call from vude king Seru Serevi.
The year was 1997 and he was a maths teacher at St Thomas High School in Lautoka.
That year James had released an iTaukei album titled Isa Na Luvequ.
Serevi had called to inform the then 38-year-old that he should make his way to Suva and attend the 1997 Vakalutuivoce Music Awards (now FPRA Music Awards) and perform two songs.
At first, James baulked at the request. But he was persuaded when Serevi informed him that he had to travel because he had won the Best New Artist award."He also said I had to prepare two songs to sing at the awards," the now 57-year-old shared.
"So I decided to do two songs from my album that were really popular at the time — Isa Na Luvequ and Raviravi Mai Ba."
James was nervous when he stepped out on the stage.
Here he was, a novice performer who had a very limited command of the iTaukei language, about to sing in front of the country's top composers and artistes.
"On the way to Suva, I was so excited but when I got to the Raffles Tradewinds Hotel in Lami, where the awards were being held, I was really nervous.
"When it came to go and perform, I told Seru, I was too nervous and I couldn't do it.
"He just hugged me and reassured me that I would do OK.
"And I really owe it to Seru for encouraging me because once I started singing, everything was OK.
"The reception I got from the composers, artistes and crowd was so amazing."
Isa Na Luvequ was recorded at South Pacific Recordings with the help of engineer Maleli Tora and producer George Low.
It featured eight songs composed by legendary iTaukei songwriter Iliesa Baravilala, the title track by James and Nai Loloma Senirosi, a song made famous by a sigidrigi group from Vanua Levu.
It struck a chord with iTaukei music appreciators in the late 1990s and into the new millennium and was very popular on radio.
When this newspaper caught up with James, he was relaxing at his Kashmir home in Lautoka.
It was hard to imagine the soft-spoken bespectacled man sitting across the room had once graced the music stage to swooning fans.
After about to two decades away from the music scene, James said he was ready for a comeback.
But this time, the schoolteacher who is a staunch Catholic, has expanded his musical palette, so to speak.
"I've composed quite a few Hindi Catholic hymns," he said.
"And this is something new for Fiji because all the Hindi hymns we sing in the Catholic church are imported from India.
"So this is the first-time that Fijians of Indian descent will be able to sing Hindi hymns composed by a local."
The hymns have been theologically cleared by the church and given the green light by Archbishop Peter Loy Chong.
An interesting fact is that James' interest in learning, singing and composing iTaukei songs began while he was a student teacher at Corpus Christi College in Nasese, Suva, in the late 1970s.
"There were only a handful of Indian students at the time. Most of the students were iTaukei and when they used to gather for social events around the tanoa, the old iTaukei songs really touched me even though I did not understand or speak Fijian that well."
Under the tutelage of close friend and ally, Paulo Nawalu (former Flying Fijian), James began to learn to sing a few iTaukei songs.
"My favourite was a song composed and originally performed by a group from Vanua Levu called Nai Loloma Senirosi."
The popular sigidrigi tune would later prove to play a pivotal part in James quest to be an iTaukei recording artiste and performer.
This was the song that convinced renowned local composer, Iliesa Baravilala, that the teacher from Raviravi, Ba, could sing even though he could not hold a conversation in the iTaukei language.
During social gatherings at Corpus Christi, many of the more popular songs that were harmonised into the wee hours of the morning, were Baravilala's compositions for then local music superstar, Jimmy Subhaydas.
"Everybody singing around the grog bowl would try to imitate Jimmy's singing style, but what really struck me were the lyrics.
"I can vividly recall the day I went to Master Iliesa — who was a teacher at Lautoka Teachers College (now Fiji National University Natabua Campus) — and asked him if he could write a few songs for me because I wanted to record an iTaukei album."
It was 1992, James had graduated from Corpus Christi and had scored a teaching role at St Thomas High School in Natabua.
It was there that he met Paulo Nawalu's younger brother, Leone.
Leone informed James that Baravilala was teaching at LTC, a stone's throw away from STHS.
The duo bought some kava and proceeded to search for the renowned composer.
When they found him in the music room at LTC, Baravilala was with Master Epeli Lagiloa (famous rugby coach). The duo presented a sevusevu and Leone made a formal request on James' behalf.
"Master Baravilala asked me to sing a song and the only song I could think of was Nai Loloma Senirosi. I started a bit nervously, but as I gained confidence, Master Epeli began to cheer me on and that's when I knew I was on the right track."
Baravilala took James under his wing and taught him the basic nuances of the iTaukei language.
When asked about the experience, the 70-year-old said James had a passion and a voice that could not be denied.
"When he came to me and asked me to compose songs for him, I thought to myself 'who is this fellow?' But when I asked him to sing, there was something in the way he performed that really touched my heart," Baravilala shared.
"I composed eight songs and recorded it on a cassette and gave it to him and he really studied those songs night and day.
"Whenever we met, I could hear the confidence in the way he sang and was familiar with my compositions.
"Even until today I am so humbled that he approached me and so proud of his amazing achievement.
"The only thing that saddens me is that, apart from Sebastian James and Jimmy Subhaydas, I have not seen or heard other local Indian singers put out iTaukei songs or albums.
"And I hope that there is a young Indian boy or man out there who has the passion to do as Sebastian and Jimmy have done."
The album was scheduled to be recorded in 1992 or 1993 but tragedy struck.
James was on his way to a live performance at the MM Cinema (opposite Ba Motorparts) in Lautoka when the vehicle he was travelling in was involved in a horrific accident with another car at Karavi on the outskirts of Ba.
James, along with five other passengers and the female driver of the other vehicle were rushed to the Lautoka Hospital.
He spent about two weeks recovering from a broken nose, head trauma and broken bones throughout his body.
"People who saw the vehicle thought that everyone had died because it was a head-on collision and there was blood everywhere," the schoolteacher reflected.
"But God had plans for me and after a long rehabilitation process, I finally recorded in 1996 and released in 1997."
James was recently called out of retirement by the International School Nadi. You can find him there on the weekdays, teaching mathematics. But in the afternoons and on weekends, he spends his time composing songs on a harmonium that was given to him by Catholic priest Father Iosefo Rokomatu.