Sunday, September 23, 2007

Youth Race for Poverty

A race was held in Lautoka to shed light on the issue of poverty.
The event, organised by the Foundation for Rural Integrated Enterprise N Development, attracted attention.
Event coordinator Jone Nawaikula said with its theme, "Stand up and speak out against poverty", teams from various social backgrounds from schools, security services and businesshouses took time out to participate in the one-day event.
He said the organisation decided against holding a seminar or training-like format in the usual training rooms, opting for an outdoor fun activity but with a serious message.
He said it also gave participants the opportunity to work as a team.
"Humor, passion and courage were displayed here today as 100 young people hustle through Lautoka City," he said.
"Amidst cracking clues and participating in team challenges, the teams visited 16 check points around the city." Mr Nawaikula said at every check-point, teams were presented with information on poverty in Fiji and the social services available when they were in need. "Next year we hope to organise this event on a larger scale where the teams would have to go out to places like Vunato to see for themselves people who scavenge down at the dump and other places in and around Lautoka."

Adapted from Fijitimes Online

Monday, September 17, 2007

Conservation vs Tradition-Case Study-Macuata

THROUGHOUT the last two weeks, letter writers, heads of organisations like WWF, the Methodist Church, the Macuata Provincial Council, the Department of Fisheries and the chiefly household of Macuata have been locked in a debate on the harvest of turtles during the annual Methodist Church conference held in Naduri last month.
Some letter writers have had some harsh words to say about the slaughter of the turtles particularly with Fiji having its own moratorium on turtle slaughter.
But like all laws there are exceptions and exemptions and not everyone can police them 24 hours in every inch of the sea.
Director of Fisheries Sanaila Naqali spoke to The Fiji Times about the issue and the interim Government's stand and involvement in the issue.
TIMES: Could you outline for our readers the main functions of the department?
The Fisheries Department of the Ministry of Fisheries and Forests is mandated to manage marine resources.
In order to achieve this goal the department has embarked on a number of activities aimed at ensuring that fish stocks are conserved and managed effectively so that our future generations also enjoy what our current generations are enjoying.
One notable feature of our activities over the last few years has been promotion and establishment of marine protected areas in a number of locations in Fiji and these marine protected areas or taboo areas are already bearing fruits.
There had been reports of increasing population of fish and other marine organisms including turtles populating these marine protected areas.
TIMES: So when were laws introduced to protect turtles in Fiji?
The first moratorium on sea turtles was introduced in 1995 and Fiji was the first country in the South Pacific to introduce a moratorium that year and declared that year as the year of Sea Turtles.
It was further continued in 1996 for five years until 2000 and extended to 2004 when it was reviewed and extended until today.
Basically the moratorium has been placed in Fiji for the last 12 years since 1995.
The current fisheries (protection of turtles) regulation which came into effect on February 6, 2004 will expire on December 31, 2008 and the moratorium prohibits the following:
The molesting, taking or killing of any species of turtles;
Selling offering, or the exposure for sale or export any turtle shell or flesh; and
The digging up, use, take or destruction of turtle eggs of any species.
The policy is quite clear that the sale of turtle meat is forbidden.
Even just offering for sale or exposing meat for sale and exporting flesh or turtle shell is forbidden.
The sale of turtle meat and export of turtle shells has been one of the causes of decline in turtles in Fiji and the moratorium on the sales of meat has been forbidden over the last 12 years. This has assisted in the preservation and effective conservation of the turtle stocks.
However, the spirit of the regulation allows exemptions for the use of turtle meat during a soqo vakavanua and other cultural and traditional gatherings.
This piece of legislation is quite clear it is only the minister who is empowered under this regulation to allow any person to be exempted.
But the person has to request this exemption by writing to the minister.
The administrative process involves an assessment by the senior officials of the fisheries department regarding the request and they submit their recommendation to the minister for his approval. The minister then issues an exemption.
Times: So what happened in Macuata?
The ministry only received two requests from villages in Nadogo district.
The requests were approved after the ministry had made its assessment but were reduced from 12 to five.
Both these requests had the support of the Macuata Provincial Council and the exemption approvals were relayed back to the applicants.
There was also a blanket request from the Macuata Provincial Council for a blanket approval for the whole of Macuata.
This was not approved and the ministry's assessment of this request was that each vanua submit separate requests so they could be dealt individually on a one on one basis.
We confirm that the department only received two requests from the tikina of Nadogo which were approved and there were no other requests from the other villages or tikina in Macuata.
It was clear there were some communication problem between the Fisheries Department and the provincial council to allow for each vanua and other tikina to submit their request.
This is a challenge now for the ministry to ensure such gaps in communication are not repeated in future and the ministry will carry out an internal assessment to further ascertain this and try to improve.
The ministry also wishes to note that we had sent two research officers to the Northern Division to collect and record data.
They took measurements of the shell its curve length, and standard curved length and width of the turtles caught during the period.
They were also tasked to do other research work to coincide with the opening of the taboo areas as part of research work.
The preliminary finding showed two species Vonudina (Green turtle) and Taku (Hawksbill turtle).
In their assessment they found 84 turtles were caught from North Eastern Vanua Levu from Udu Point, Lakeba in Namuka, Nabavatu in Dreketi, Cikobia, Kia, Navakasobu, Nasea-Raviravi and Mali Island.
Times: What species of turtles are common in Fiji?
Naqali: The
four species in abundance in Fiji include the Green turtle (Vonu Dina) Hawksbill turtle (Taku), Loggerhead turtle (Tuvonu or guru) and the Leatherback turtle (Tutuwalu or Dakulaca).
In 2000 the fisheries department estimated that the population of each of the sea turtle stocks found in Fiji waters were about 8000-12,000.
Green turtles or Vonu dina of all age groups was estimated at around 4000 to 6000.
Times: So what is the greatest threat to turtles?
The Fisheries Department has also noted that the greatest threat to sea turtles is not traditional or subsistence but the commercial harvest for their meat.
In the case of Macuata, the issue has been blown out of proportion by the media.
The ministry maintains that the 84 turtles harvested during the church conference is not a threat compared to those turtles kills each year commercially which run into the hundreds of thousands in the Pacific.
The policies were formulated to support turtle protection and management with the low staff numbers it will always be a challenge for the department to monitor and enforce the laws. Approvals had been granted to one tikina while the other tikina had gone through the provincial office.
The department maintains there has been an oversight in the area of communication between the two organisations.
This is an area we are addressing and will improve as we train community leaders and villagers not only in Macuata but throughout the nation.

Adapted from Fijtimes Online

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Fiji to Play against Japan in France

FLYING Fijians coach Ilivasi Tabua knows his team will have to withstand early Japan pressure in tomorrow morning's Group B World Cup match.
Injury-hit Japan will be looking to bounce back from Sunday's 91-3 mauling against Australia, while Fiji begins its World Cup program confident of beating the Japanese for the seventh time in their ninth meeting.
"They do everything at 100 miles an hour," Tabua said of Japan. "They will more or less rush everything, while we will try and control it, take the pressure off, and unleash what we have in our fire-armour," Tabua told the Associated Press.
Fiji beat Japan 41-13 at the last World Cup, and 30-15 earlier this year.
"You will see Fijian flair and the running style of rugby," Tabua said.
However, Fiji needs to be vigilant as Japan's all-out pacy, attacking style can unsettle opponents.
"It is hard to play Japan because of the pace, they have a running game as well so what we have to do is shut them down," Fiji's vice-captain and second row Kele Leawere said. "We have to beat Japan to make the quarter-finals."
Tabua will look to Saracens halfback pairing of scrumhalf Mosese Rauluni and flyhalf Nicky Little to unlock Japan's defense.
Centre Seremaia Bai is also expected to show his tough tackling.
Bai has been picked on three occasions for the Pacific Highlanders a mixture of Tonga, Samoa and Fiji players.
Tabua, meanwhile, will become the first Fijian to coach the small nation at the World Cup.
As a player, Tabua had the rare distinction of representing two countries at the World Cup: Australia in 1995 and Fiji four years later. Frank Bunce (Samoa/New Zealand) and Graeme Bachop (New Zealand/Japan) did the same.
Japan's coach John Kirwan the first All Blacks player to play 50 internationals needs to find a way to restore confidence after Saturday's thumping.
Japan, which is 1-17 at World Cups, won its only match 16 years ago a 52-8 crushing of Zimbabwe.
Kirwan's bid to turn Japan's fortunes around took a blow with the news that flanker Takamichi Sasaki, the captain against Aust-ralia, will miss the rest of the competition with a left-knee strain.
"He has been quite outstanding in the last two or three weeks," Kirwan said.
"He never took a backward step against Australia and he put in some big hits."
Kirwan's original World Cup plans have been shredded by a succession of injuries. Mitsugu Yamamoto, Eiji Ando and Daisuke Ohata are also sidelined.
Ohata is the highest try-scorer in world rugby with 69 tries five more than famed Australian David Campese.
Kirwan will give the captain's armband back to No. 8 Takuro Miuchi, who was captain at the 2003 World Cup.
"Everyone needs to have a great game but I'll be looking for Miuchi to really stand up as captain," Kirwan said.
Fiji has a slim chance of reaching the quarterfinal stage, with Australia and Wales tipped to take the top two spots.

Adapted from Fijitimes Online


A PARENTING manual on positive methods of discipline was launched by Save the Children Fiji (SCF) yesterday.
Titled Positive Discipline: What it is and how to do it is "an approach to parenting that teaches children and guides their behaviour, while respecting their rights to healthy development, protection from violence and participation in their learning" said the manual's author, Dr Joan Durrant.
SCF programs manager Lynette Petueli said the manual would strengthen their work in ensuring the rights of children were protected.
They hope to distribute the manual as widely as possible.
"We have done a lot of work at community level through our mobile play group projects as well as our training with partners and institutions on child protection and on children's rights in general," she said.
"The arrival of this parenting manual will fit into the ongoing process of public awareness."
Ms Petueli said SCF would take the manuals to the various communities.
"We will also contextualise the parenting manual so it can suit the needs of parents here in Fiji. We then plan to take it through our mobile playgroup project which works with several communities in Suva and Labasa particularly."
She said there was a continuous interaction between SCF and the various communities and these were assessed to gauge the different levels of change that took place.
The mobile play group project was established in 2002 and services 17 communities in Suva and Labasa.
"For most communities the value of early childhood education is already there but it is just a matter of having a facility and resources to be able to establish their own early childhood centres or playgroup centres so people are aware of the importance of early childhood education to give children a head start in life."
"For most parents it's a learning experience.
"We encourage people to learn from what has happened and from the awareness programs that we run and hopefully be able to practice it in their daily lives," she said.

Adapted from Fijitimes Online

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


HE was crowned the first Hibiscus King in the history of the Hibiscus Carnival but behind the king is a humble, respectful and down to earth person.
And if there is something 22-year-old Emosi Ah Ching is proud of, it is his Samoan heritage.
He said it was an honour to be a regional student taking part in such an event.
The third-year dental student at the Fiji School of Medicine said he had never regretted entering the pageant although he was in two minds about it when asked by friends.
Ah Ching is from the village of Vailea Tai in Western Samoa.
He started his primary education at Pesega Primary School and then Sackville Street Primary in Australia.
But he wanted to go to school in his homeland so he attended Marist High School in American Samoa before returning to Western Samoa where he joined Saint Joseph's School before enrolling at the University of Samoa.
Ah Ching came to Fiji in 2005 to enroll at the University of the South Pacific and then joined the Fiji School of Medicine.
He is not the first in the family to study in Fiji; his elder sister graduated from FSM last year while his father was a graduate from the institution and now practices medicine in American Samoa.
"The greatest challenge about coming to Fiji is that I am here to study.
"With studies and endless freedom given to us in campus, only the fittest will survive.
"Other than that, everything is just as similar back at home, the lifestyle the culture and tradition and of cause the friendliness of the people."
Ah Ching said it was an essence of the Pacific people the smiling faces one gets to see everywhere.
"There is not much difference. In Samoa the family is the foundation of everything and we have our own resources which we utilise to keep us going and there is also the system of share and care which still exists today.
"This, I believe, is what makes us unique. Even when one is from another Pacific island country he or she should always display some of his characters."
When asked what made him enter the Hibiscus Carnival, Ah Ching smiled and said his friends pushed him into it.
"I'm glad I agreed to be part of it and winning the contest was something I did not expect," he said.
"After agreeing, I made sure I would portray as much traditional custom of my island country as possible."
And this he did when he left the crowd breathless with the lively Samoan dance he displayed at the talent night.
"I think I did a good job and would like to thank all the support I have been receiving from my mates at FSM."
Ah Ching said the perception that pageants were only for women should be brushed aside now because it was also an opportunity for men to showcase what they had and their ideas on national issues that are affecting the country, region and the world today.
He said the funny thing about the contest was that he was supposed to be smiling and waving all the time he was in front of the public.
"At times I was not smiling but laughing at myself for waving and smiling to the crowd," he said.
"But I managed and it was such a great experience in my life.
"I thank the organisers for allowing a regional student to be part of the contest and I hope I will not be the first nor the last to enter such a pageant."
Ah Ching said there were three foundations in life that made a person a better one in life.
"First, one should set a solid relationship with Christ," he said. "Second, with the family.
"Third, with his culture and traditions."
Ah Ching said if all three were built on a rock-solid foundation, everything would fall into place.
For the time being, the Hibiscus King is hooked up with his studies. He said there was one thing he feared the most in life and that was failing his parents.
But for now, the Hibiscus King is concentrating on his studies for his final exams and hopes to be the best dental surgeon in Samoa and the region.

Adapted from Fijitimes Online

Monday, September 10, 2007


TODAY is World Suicide Day, organised locally by Partners in Community Development Fiji.
Senior reporter MARY JOHNS spoke to program co-ordinator Margaret Logavatu.
Times: Why do people commit suicide?
Ms Logavatu:
Suicide exists in every society. Some of the causes of suicide are common despite different cultures, while in many societies suicide can have very specific cultural meanings and interpretations. In Fiji it is often a little known fact that suicide is one of our most common causes of death. In any given year in Fiji, more people will take their own lives than will be involved in road accidents (in 2003, 73 fatalities occurred on Fiji's roads versus 102 people who committed suicide).
While it is difficult to generalise why an individual chooses to commit or attempt suicide, one common cause can be addressed. That is, the majority of such people are suffering from severe depression. Depression is a common and treatable mental illness that on average affects one in five people. This makes suicide prevention and mental health awareness so important because if we can catch mental illness early on and intervene and treat the illness, we can reduce the incidence of suicide.
Depression can often result from stress, among all age groups. Stress and anxiety can often result from study, work, employment difficulties, and after traumatic events, such as the loss of a loved one, an accident and the end of a relationship. It is imperative that people receive adequate support during times of stress so they can employ effective coping strategies to deal with a difficult period, and avoid severe depression that can lead to events such as suicide.
Times: What are the telltale signs?
Predicting suicide is difficult. Changes in behaviour outside the person's normal range of behaviour and which do not make sense to those close to them may be a warning sign. Other warning signs may include:
- Loss of interest in previously pleasurable activities;
- Giving away prized possessions;
- Problem behaviour and substance misuse;
- Apathy in dress and appearance, or a sudden change in weight;
- Sudden and striking personality changes;
- Withdrawal from friends and social activities; and
- Increased 'accident proneness' and self-harming behaviours.
It is also important to note that all suicide threats should be taken seriously.
Times: Would you recommend people with these symptoms see a psychologist?
It is important for anyone going through a difficult time to be able to draw on adequate social support to help them through their situation. For many of us, that social support or safety net exists in various forms. It can take the form of close family members, friends, sports team coach, priest, teacher, or yes, even a psychologist. The primary issues here are ensuring people are provided with an environment conducive to effective communication and that everyone has someone they can trust to talk them through their intricate circumstance.
Times: How can we tackle these symptoms?
Logavatu: Suicide is often linked to problems of mental illness and mental illness is aggravated by social and physical isolation. In all societies it has been found that in times of change, migration and isolation, suicide rates increase and people's mental health suffers.
The important link to note here is that when people become disconnected they are more likely to suffer from a mental illness and struggle to cope with difficult circumstances.
As a society we can be aware of the issue of suicide and seek to connect people to the appropriate services and support they require to get through difficult times and build their personal resilience. Mental illness is like any other illness in that it is treatable. If you were to break an arm would you just sit at home and wait for it to heal? No, you would seek medical treatment immediately. A person showing signs of mental ill health can still live a productive life if given access to proper treatment and support.
Times: The suicide rate is particularly high among youths. Are parents not spending enough time with their children?
As parents or caregivers not only is it important to be able to communicate openly and honestly with your young ones, but you must also be able to provide them with an environment to do the same with you.
Unfortunately our cultural values dictate that children and youth are meant to be seen and not heard.
This makes it especially difficult for the young person who may bear witness to drug abuse in their school, violence in their home or sexual promiscuity among their peers and need an outlet to express how these things may be impacting them.
Meaningful communication between elders and young people is key, it's vital to their mental wellbeing and how they make sense of the world they live in.
We must also take the initiative to remain clued in about current issues that may have the potential to affect our young people.
Moreover, everyone has a part to play in the fight to address suicide. While the primary foundation should be the home, we must remember that the young person is part of a wider community or network.
Teachers, peers, the media (in terms of responsible reporting) and even the young people themselves need to take responsibility and ownership over this issue as it has the potential to affect many lives.
Times: What is your advice to families, especially parents?
As much as possible try not to place your children or young people in a situation where they may have to compete with your commitment to your church, vanua, or work. While I respectfully acknowledge that these are extremely important components of our way of life, it shouldn't be at the expense of our children and young people.
Times: Are you aware of the statistics on suicide for the first half of the year and if so, what kind of trend do they indicate?
We do not expect to know the suicide rates for this year until the Ministry of Health has had a chance to collate and distribute them sometime next year. We do know however, that the suicide rates over the last couple of years have decreased by some 12-15 per cent.
While this may be due to a number of factors like increased awareness on the issue, or even inaccurate recording, the fact remains that Fiji's suicide rates are still too high for a country with our population size.
Times: How does World Suicide Day help?
We are using this day as a platform to raise awareness on suicide and its connection to mental health, as well as pay our respects to those lives we have lost to suicide in the past.
In preparation for this event, we have made appearances on radio talk back shows in both the English and vernacular languages to talk about our local situation on suicide.
We have also started using our networks to spread the word on this event and as of Friday, September 7, my team have been both overwhelmed and humbled by the show of support and encouragement for this initiative.
I have heard that an entire school grade is interested in attending because they recently lost a friend to suicide.
This goes back to the importance of providing a safe space conducive for young people to come together and express their feelings about something that is affecting them, something that is unfortunately done too often in our society.
Times: What sort of work is planned for after September 10?
Partners in Community Development Fiji (PCDF) will continue to work with government and non-government actors to raise awareness on issues like suicide, mental health, and mental illness primarily at the community level.
PCDF is working at supporting partners such as the Ministry of Health, St Giles Psychiatric Hospital and Marie Stopes International in their extraordinary efforts to raise awareness in isolated rural areas like Nadarivatu, parts of Naitasiri, and the Lau group to name a few.
It is very rewarding to hear of the impact these programs have on our people in the rural areas as they learn about issues such as suicide and mental health.
We are also concerned about the increasing reports of depression among our children, some as young as 14 years old.
PCDF, along with its partner stakeholders, is planning to extend its outreach program into schools in order to address this very important issue.
These plus many other initiatives are what will continue post September 10.

Adapted from Fijitimes Online

Sunday, September 9, 2007


FIJI'S uprising star Akesa Drotini missed out the opportunity to notch her second gold medal after pulling out of the women's 1500m due to a pulled muscle.
Officials from the Team Fiji camp yesterday said it was not serious and the timid 14-year-old Wainibuka lass sat comfortably cheering her team-mates on from the Apia Park Stadium.
"It was nothing serious only a pulled muscle caused after the long distance run in the 5000m race," the official who preferred to remain anonymous said.
"I guess this is was due to the fact that coaches forgot to get her warmed down after the win as everyone was excited and got carried away," he said.
The class eight student made a sterling debut at the 13th South Pacific Games scooping Fiji's first ever gold medal in the 12-round 5000m race.
"It was her decision and we respected that as she's the one that's going to run," the official said.
Drotini who is still the talk of the town amongst athletics fans in Apia said she had no regrets but will be back to defend her gold in four years time.
"I just didn't feel too well to run again because of my pulled muscle on my calf and I'm grateful to the coaches for understanding," she shyly said.
"I feel like I've let them down but I know I have a long way to go in athletics and will train hard to come back to win gold for Fiji in the next SPG," she said.
Drotini heads back to her Nasaibitu village in Tailevu where a grand celebration awaits her.

Adapted from Fijitimes Onine

Jone Delai wins Gold in Samoa

AN old pair of track shoes is what 100m sprint champ Jone Delai believes helped him win back the title 12 years later at Apia yesterday afternoon.
That plus it was his 40th birthday yesterday that pushed him to win gold for his country as well as for himself.
"Something inside me kept saying that I had to wear the track shoes which I last wore at the 1999 games. I felt I needed to wear it again," he said.
"Imagine, I couldn't locate it for the 2003 games but after a long search at our home in Ba, I found it neatly tucked away in an old sports bag of mine."
Delai said 2003 blue ribbon star John Lum Kon had given him his track shoes prior to the team's departure. But Delai said he longed for his old Asics brand shoes.
"John offered me his new shoes but even up until this morning, my instinct kept telling me to wear the old pair," he said.
"I'm 40 years of age and couldn't have asked for a better birthday present than this."
Delai last won the title at the 1995 SPG.
There was a double celebration at the Team Fiji camp at Lefifi College in Apia after Makelesi Bulikiobo retained her crown, setting a new SPG record of 11.55s. The two athletes attributed their win to their Brisbane-based coach, Lloyd Way.
"I thank Lloyd Way for believing in me in the last three months," said Delai.
"After running a time of 10.52 in Cairns last week, I knew I w as ready."
Said Bulikiobo: "I'm on top of the world right now. I am really happy and I thank my coach Lloyd Way for bringing me back to the form I'm in today."
She confessed that her Papua New Guinea rivals Mae Koime and Toea Wisil gave her a tough run. "It was pretty close and I nearly caused my Fiji fans heartache but I kept on pushing myself to the finishing line," she said.
"I dedicate the win to all the dads back at home for Father's Day and also to my supporters.
"I believe I'm a lot faster and much stronger than the last SPG and I thank Mr Way and his family for looking after me while I was at Brisbane."
Koime of PNG took the silver medal in a time of 11.57s and Wisil, also of PNG, had to settle for bronze with a time of 12s.
Interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama yesterday sent a letter of congratulations to Akesa Drotini, who won the 5000m event on Tuesday.
"We are all proud of you and your achievement," he wrote, on behalf of the people of Fiji and the interim administration.
"By running barefoot and beating veteran runners, you have also clearly symbolised the theme of the Games, 'Live the Dream'. "Your remarkable victory is not only an inspiration to Team Fiji but the whole of Fiji.
"Once again, congratulations on your gallant victory and best wishes for the future."

Adapted from Fijitimes Online