January Updates

Oilei. Sorry again for the long delays. It has been over 3 weeks now, things have been busy in a different way lately and this post will serve as a quick update to the goings-on in the village over the past month.

Later I will post in more detail about some of these things.

 

First and foremost, my proud little “legacy” in the village, our maps! I created two maps so far, one of the world, and one of the island I live on, Ovalau. Both maps have a kesa border which is a design typically found on fijian barkcloth aka “masi” which is used extensively in weddings and funerals throughout Fiji.  I have been asked to create a similar map of Fiji in our community hall, but have to wait for the next village meeting to request permission to do something like that.

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The World Map

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Map of Ovalau

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Masi or Fijian bark cloth showing the kesa designs. The designs I chose were taken from fabric I have hanging inside my house and some of my Fijian Books’ covers

The village “tomitomi” crew is still going strong. Tomitomi literally translates into ‘the picking up of scattered things’ but in usage refers to picking up rubbish throughout the village. I just walk outside with  plastic bags and hand them out to kids nearby (or more often than not there will be a group of 20 kids outside the house asking to go tomitomi) and we follow some paths through the village until all of our plastic bags are full. We then tie them up properly and place them in the rubbish pick up spots on the road. Then the kids follow me home to receive their prizes (stickers, marbles, pencils… really anything I have been sent in packages for them or small things I pick up in town). If you want to send prizes for the tomitomi please do!

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Tomitomi crew on a particularly hot afternoon, keeping the village clean one afternoon at a time!

I am now 25. And going through my quarter life crisis. I’m overstating that a bit, but that is what it feels like at times. I arrived in Fiji as a young 22 year old and having now celebrated my 3rd birthday here, well it is taking a toll on me.  My birthday was an awesome day though, my boyfriend had gone to town and purchased all the things to make a BBQ (lamb chops cooked with soy sauce, ginger, chili, garlic and onion, lamb sausage, fried eggs, cucumber, pineapple and cassava). He had told me that it would all be ready at ‘White House’ the house we drink grog at basically every night, at around 2pm so I skipped lunch in anticipation for this amazing meal. I painted the final border pieces on our world map, had some vasua (giant clam) my neighbor Semi brought me that is prepared like ceviche basically just ‘cooked’ in lemon juice. It tasted pretty interesting, I would probably not have it again but I am really grateful I had the opportunity to try it! Can’t get much fresher than 200 meters from your door can it? Anyway, 2pm comes and goes… long story short we didn’t get started until 6pm! At this point I was ravenous and Naca explained that one of my mothers heard about it being my birthday and was making me a salusalu (basically a lei) and that was why there was a delay. I love salusalu’s so I forgave the delay, which was pretty much expected because of how things operate on Fiji time out here. Finally we were invited over and a friend of mine Kiti (or Rush his nickname) gave a speech. He talked about how grateful they were that I had been here now for 3 years and improved their understanding of how things work and integrated so well with them. He mentioned my involvement in their ‘community’ as opposed to using the word ‘village’ that minor change in wording made the biggest difference to me to know that I am no longer viewed as just a passer by in the village but as an integral part of their life as a community.  We had a kava session and played cards until I just got so tired I left early and went home to sleep!

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Eating the vasua while wearing my birthday crown and painting the kesa border on our map

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Tui Naro, the village Chief and myself on my birthday celebrating at ‘White House’

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Our delicious BBQ lunch! Lamb chops, lamb sausage, fried eggs, pineapple, cucumber and cassava

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My birthday present from Naca

 

I went diving with Naca for sasalu or various sea cucumbers. It is a way for rural coastal villages to make money, selling them in Suva for up to $50 a piece depending on the species. I also taught him about their reproductive behaviour and the fact that they need to be in close proximity to successfully reproduce as broadcast spawners so we relocated some of them back inside our tabu area to hopefully allow them the chance for successful reproduction. It was a really fun day, I just love spending time out on the ocean because it affords me the opportunity to get away from the village drama and gossip and focus on why I am here and continue to think of new ways to improve this little piece of Fiji I am so fortunate to have been a part of for nearly 3 years.

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I love this place. We went out on the afternoon that Tropical Cyclone Ian stopped swerving between Fiji and Tonga and made its move towards Tonga

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A Trevally, called saqa here in Fiji I saw out near the reef break

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Naca holding one of the sea cucumbers we relocated into our MPA to help ensure breeding

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After I dove down for a sucuwalu (type of sea cucumber) this one will sell for $25 in Suva

Our Piggery Committee had a major meeting to discuss the closing of the project. Now with construction finished our focus has changed to the implementation of our training programme to inform and spread the word about this project. We will be working in conjunction with Ministries from Levuka town to conduct these trainings. We decided to conduct the training sessions in one marathon week as opposed to spreading them out one per week for 5 weeks which I am actually a big fan of. It will be an insanely busy week but I feel attendance will be better and knowledge retention will be better if we make it our priority for one week. Our trainings will be:

 

Day 1: Introduction to Composting

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putting the doors on our pig pens… pretty much the last step in construction!

Day 2: Animal Husbandry and Agricultural Importance and Use of Compost

Day 3: Biological Monitoring of Marine Protected areas and traditional fishing grounds (Qoliqoli)

Day 4: Women’s Group focus on Home Composting

Day 5: Technical Training on the Composting Piggery system

 

The marathon of workshops will culminate in a party where we will award certificates to all members who completed all 5 training sessions, other prizes and sulu’s that we are having printed specifically for this project. The trainings will be a mixture of group work (solving scenarios etc), games to illustrate points and stay active, on site training to demonstrate skills in the appropriate setting, hands-on activities like making seaweed fertilizer, chili-onion-garlic-soap all purpose organic pesticide, and how to use vinegar or mulch to kill weeds. Every workshop will come with handouts for members to keep for reference and personal use and each day will end with a quiz to test knowledge retention and areas we need to hilight again the following day. Each participant will be given a notebook and a pen at the beginning to take notes and write down information they want to retain.

 

Which just about brings me up to date. I am currently in the Capital on medical hold for some god-awful sickness that is getting worse even after 4 days on antibiotics. The plus side? Being in Suva allows me to purchase and print the sulus for the project, print the invitations, certificates, handouts, quizzes and manuals, purchase the notebooks and pens etc and all the prizes for the party.  So that is my update, I hope you enjoyed it and I promise the posts will be more regular in the foreseeable future.

 

Moce mada

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “January Updates

  1. Hi Samantha,

    Sorry to hear you’re unwell. I’ve been following your blog for a while now, it’s amazing. I’m an aussie volunteer in Suva, so if you’re getting a bit bored stuck in Suva, let me know it would be great to catch up for a coffee or something, and meet you.

    Anyway, all the best for the rest of the project, looking forward to more updates.

    Libby

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