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Jul 26, 2019

>Thirty New Coral Gardeners Trained in Fiji

Greetings to all of our supporters. 

An amazing event happened in late May, that continues to affect the coral work even now.  We convinced Plantation Island Resort to sponsor an emergency response to the mass bleaching in the form of a training workshop. Thirty-three participants gathered: 14 resort staff, 17 NGO staff, two community representatives, and a Fiji Government Fisheries Department representative, all eager to learn how to do something about the mass bleaching affecting the Mamanuca Islands reefs.  The resort covered dorm accommodation, meals, venues, and boats. The community also provided a boat, helping make the event low cost and effective. It was an amazing gesture of dedication and service to the environment.  

Participants learned about coral restoration ecology, coral nursery methods, coral predator removal, as well as how to select bleaching resistant corals for the reef restoration work. A new 'super coral' nursery was established, and an A-frame method was introduced, a first for Fiji. The week was interesting, exciting, and a whole lot of fun for everyone. 

Participants even worked hard to produce and upload a short film of the workshop, link below.  Discussions were lively, and included the desire to work more closely together in our efforts in the coming years, to make the Mamanuca Islands a model coral reef adaptation site for bleaching resistance.  A follow up workshop and additional training is planned for September.  Participants from Australia, the Maldives, and Papua New Guinea have expressed interest in coming for the September training- so that we can spread this hopeful strategy even further.

I am off to Tuvalu next week for another coral workshop and to build another super coral nursery there, made possible by your generous donations. We have been able to do so much more than we had ever dreamed possible thanks to this outpouring of support. 

Blessings and light to you all,

Austin

Links:

May 6, 2019

Our Disaster Recovery Strategy is now Complete

Nadelei Workshop
Nadelei Workshop

Our last workshop of participants from the Clyclone Winston disaster zone, was from the community of Nadelei Village, in the highlands of Ba Province in January.  The trainees offered during out fiev day traing some quite horrific stories of the cyclone and how fortunate most were to escape with their lives, as the cyclone had hit in the daytime, so people could evacuate to better shelter as their homes were destroyed one by one.  Many of their local chickens also survived, unlike the areas where the severe cyclone hit at night.

However, all the rebuilding is completed, and noone continues to live in tents, the gardens are flourishing, and things are mostly back to normal. We have also heard this recovery is the case for all the other Happy Chicken sites from the disaster area- Taveuni, Koro, Moturiki, Tailevu North, and Yasawa.  As we are just a bit under our final goal, we plan to merge the project with our main Happy Chickens project, to simplify reporting.  Our main purpose continues to be poverty alleviation, improved nutrition, and community empowerment.   

We thank each of you deeply for helping make this project a big success, which continuies onward, with the chickens are now hatching baby chicks of their own, and with two of the communities running their own small hatcheries, using the small incubators we provided. 

May blessings flow to you all, as you have certainly blessed Fiji with your generosity and love.

Tea time = story time
Tea time = story time
May 1, 2019

Happy Chicken Workshop for Remote Kiribati Atolls

Making VCO to produce chicken feed
Making VCO to produce chicken feed

We conducted our very first international Happy Chicken traing workshop at the Fiji farm and hatchery for ten days, 9-18 April.  A group of five community representatives flew in from the remote coral atolls of Aranuka, Marakei, and Tarawa, with the transport paid for by an Australian grant to our Kiribati partner, FSPK.

An important revelation of the discussions during the week is that the fish of Aranuka Atoll have become poisonous to eat in recent years, since the corals died in the 2014-15 mass coral bleaching event, which was caused by extremely hot water due to el Nino and climate change. The fish poison "ciguatera" has worsened to the point whereby people are deprived of most reef fish in their diet, with only a few species remaining safe to eat.  This makes the chicken project all the more important to the community.  

The goal of the workshop was to learn the care and breeding principles necessary to build a successful community poultry programme on each of the atolls.  Due to the isolation of Kiribati, the projects must rely totally on local feeds, rather than imported feed. The participants learned about local plant foods, care and feeding, housing, and breeding. Incubation was also taught, using the small incubators that they already have on site.  An illustrated handbook was created that includes most of the information, and was given out to the participants.

Additional training included the making of virgin coconut oil (VCO), as a means for de-fatting coconut so that more coconut can be fed to the chickens- full-fat coconut can only be 25% of a healthy chicken diet, while defatted coconut can make up 40-50%.   Leucaena and morniga leaves, chopped kumala leaves, and chopped Vigna beach pea leaves are ideally added to the defatted coconut, which ensures that more healthy vegetable matter and complete/balanced protein sources are consumed.

Using the VCO, we demonstrated soap making to the trainees, which was very exciting to them.  Coconut oil soap lathers well in brackish water, and is better for the atolls than imported soaps. Dried seaweeds, brought to Fiji from Kiribati, were made into seaweed gel, and then used to make kimchee pickles and coconut jelly pie.  The biggest hit was the after-shower gel, made from seven parts seaweed gel mixed with one part VCO, scented with vanilla and orange oil.  Everyone took a bottle home, with plans to make their own. 

As Ruiti, the FSPK Director, had a permit for bringing seeds back, we spent time preparing and drying various vegetable and fruit seeds from around the farm. 

Each participant was sent home with an efficient coconut grater, a strong bucket, watering dishes for baby chicks, a roll of 1cm wire mesh for making a mobile rearing pen (7 meter x 75cm), a 500 gram bottle of caustic soda for making soap, and ample chick starter feed.

We will send the baby chicks via plane to Kiribati next week, and FSPI will follow up on the atolls.  We are also planning for follow up visits, as resources allow.  

The former president of Kiribati, Mr Anote Tong, visited the farm to view the project last week, right on the heels of the Kiribati workshop.  This historic visit was filmed by Netherlands TV, and will be aired in several countries in Europe. This visit was a great honor for the Happy Chicken project and the farm staff, and we hope the filming will result in some good exposure as well.  

Thanks so much for your support in making this vital work happen.

Tebbi hugging a Kabir cross rooster
Tebbi hugging a Kabir cross rooster
Seeta and Ata-ata working in the hatchery
Seeta and Ata-ata working in the hatchery
Tebbi loves the new hatched chicks
Tebbi loves the new hatched chicks
President Tong visits the farm to learn more!
President Tong visits the farm to learn more!
Workshop participants with C4C staff
Workshop participants with C4C staff
 
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