LEARN TO SPEAK THE LANGUAGE OF VIRTUES
In September the team of youth working with the Virtues Project visited two separate communities. More then fifty people in each community attended the meetings at which the virtues strategies were presented over five hours. Discussions were held about the five strategies and their importance in their daily lives. After the presentation were made the participants were given time for questions about the five strategies. People were deeply concerned with the current situation they are facing and the strategies of the virtues enlighten them, enabling them to see things from a different perspective.
RECOGNIZE TEACHABLE MOMENTS
These discussions helped them see the important of working together. The two mataqali (tribes) have come up with their own plan on how to support each other during this difficult time. They have also contacted some of their family members who reside overseas to support them financially. One of their objectives is to buy groceries and pack them up to distribute to their mataqali members who are currently without jobs. Even though some of their members are farmers they were not able to deliver their food produce to the market because of the lockdown which means they had no income.
SET CLEAR BOUNDARIES AND CONSEQUENCES
The committee organized resource people to speak on certain topics that will help their members to be sustainable.
HONOR THE SPIRIT
The mataqali have seen how people have starting to work together in unity and they are also continuing to use the virtues of sharing, caring and love.
PROVIDE COMPANIONING TO RESOLVE PROBLEMS
Following the virtues presentation it was agreed that each member of the households would start practicing the five strategies, after which they experience they would share it to other members of their mataqali in the village.
The virtues presentation also helped them to realized the importance of consultation as it helps them better understand each other. Before there was no consultation between the head of the mataqali and its members.
During this pandemic they were able to share about what they forefathers used to do while going out fishing, building a bure and cooking certain type of traditional food. They said it given them the opportunity to teach their younger generation before it is too late.
They have also spoken about the important of the language we use, they agree at times they used negative words when they are angry with their children.
Before the end of December other communities around Suva were visited and provided with the same process. The youth working with the Virtues Project carried out awareness programs in settlements near Tailevu, Nausori,Lami and Suva corridor.
The awareness was done in clusters due to the covid protocol. There were two clusters on each district consist of fifteen people from young to old per cluster. There were one hundred and twenty people reached during this awareness.
The youth main focus was to train their fellow peers and also their family members on the five strategies.
During the awareness some participants explain how the pandemic affect them socially. It affects them financially which built insecurity among them. There was no hope to keep them financially viable if the lockdown was prolonged. They were even traumatized by the fear being sick and isolated. They were also emotionally affected by losing their loved ones and being out of touch with other family members.
They felt the lost of self esteem as things being crashing down on them without be prepared.
After the sharing of the five strategies they were able to understand that to be able to cope with the changes happening around them it had to come from within each individual.
They have realized the important of being obedient to the respective stakeholders to be able to protect them from spreading the virus. They also realized the important for being more conservatives and vigilant on what's happening around them to make wise decision in building their capacity to be able to sustain them in the near future. They have also observed the positive attitude that helped them during the pandemic was to share within their own community and this has built unity among the different races in this community.
PICTURES: The first photo shows the attendees at one of the workshops to give some idea of the families who attended. The second photo is of the youth who made the presentations.
Zoom sessions with some of the peer educators were carried out to refresh them on the five strategies of the Virtues Project. Despite network problems they continued to share their experiences with the five strategies.
One youth explained that during this pandemic these strategies had taught him to be more vigilant, understand and respect the ‘bubbles’ required for safety from the virus. Even though travelling to and from the island to Lautoka city is quite restricted he had learned to be more patient and continue serving his community with available resources they have.
Other youths have continued to assist in their local community despite these covid crises. One of the virtues peer educators is part of a group that has been assisted by some organisation that looks after the vulnerable in our society by distributing food supplies. Despite that they continue to travel around explaining about covid and giving out the handouts of the five strategies to help the people understand more about the Virtues strategies.
Our youth have been sharing what they've seen going on in the community. People are desperate to survive even though there are few available resources that are available to them but still they need basic items for support. Some families have been living together as an extended family of sixteen in a one bedroom house because they cannot afford rent. Unemployment has really hit the main core of some families as they have had to separate the family members to go in different directions to survive. Children are sent to sell food on the street to help out in the family. Some families cannot afford to pay top up on their phone to support their kids for zoom classes. This has been a burden to parents to look for ways to cater for their children's education.
Once members of the communities are aware of the virtues and the role they play in our lives they can develop the ability to ask questions about the decisions they are making about themselves with the current situation being faced in Fiji.
Fiji needs the virtue of unity & solidarity to show that we are all in this together and it reminds us that the virtues are in evidence all around us during this crisis. They are seen in the small kindnesses extended by a neighbour, friends and families. We should not ignore the virtues as they tell us how to live well as individuals and societies in the face of distress and hardship.
What the youth notice that people are practicing the virtues of kindness, love, caring by helping out with their neighbors in sharing seedlings, church group buying basic food items to their church members, individual groups also help out with the communities with this gesture no one was left out in the community. Working people are also given food ration because their wages has been really reduced.
The observation from our youth that they acknowledge all individual people and organisation for helping out in the community because they see the need that our communities are desperate to survive during this crisis. The government alone cannot solve the problem it took all individuals to come together in solidarity and work hand in hand to overcome this problem.
ONGOING WORK ON THE PANDEMIC
The youth are doing marvellous work helping the medical team in Lautoka doing community profiling for the past few weeks (August). These youth have been liaising with the District Officer and our Lautoka District Council of Social Services.
Now the profiling has ceased and the youth have been trained to operate the emergency line for covid patients who need ambulance services. Natabua High School is the venue they operating this service.
Feedback receive from the youth that they thank virtues project Fiji for supporting the youth which allows them to at least receive allowance from government in their voluntary.
There is also request coming from Ba, Tavua and Rakiraki bubbles for an awareness on virtues strategies to address the issues of using responsibility in using government assistance.
CLIMATE CHANGE ISSUES
The youth continue to work in groups on issues around climate issues and cleanliness.
Dear Friends and suppporters. Fiji is in great difficulties trying to contain the latest outbreak of the covid virus and has had to completey lock down some areas not allowing anyone out of their homes for days at a time to try to stop the spread of the virus.
Virtues Project Fiji is in the process of training a number of youth and women as facilitators so that more work can be done for communities, clubs, womens groups and families and such service can be extended throughout the country. This is now urgent as the lock down has brought increasing violence to women and children as reported by the emergency agencies which deal with these situations.
At the moment of writing this report all activities have stopped at the request of the government asking people to stay at home. The program for training was prepared and will be implemented as soon as people can gather again. Even if the number of people are limited the training can still go ahead with the number permitted to gather.
Once we are on the move again we will send another report.
With gratitude for all your support
Virtues Project Fiji has been engaging youth for social action in the service of others to create positive change. This has been a community outreach program for youth in the community where social action is seen as an important mechanism for young people to develop and express their character. One practical aspect of this outreach program has involved the youth in participating with other stakeholders in assisting them after the cyclone in December by visiting communities and gathering information needed for stakeholder’s. These youth demonstrated a broad range of virtues through social action.
These virtues trained youth have been travelling to places in Fiji conducting their own research and using the Five Virtues strategies as their tools to educate their peers as well as with parents helping them to understand more about their role. Even though travelling was restricted to certain parts of Fiji last year it did not disturb the spirit of these youth who continued to carry out their own task silently in their respective communities.
A great deal of spiritual companion was carried out in the community last year because they were a vast number of people who had lost their jobs due to the economic consequences created with the downturn in tourism industry because of the global pandemic. One of the main topics that was discuss with communities visited was what are other things that can be done to sustain themselves apart from relying on their pay.
Some of the stories gathered from people in the communities told of how there was not enough family time prior to the pandemic but now they are doing things together as a family and most importantly there is more quality time with their children. These were some of the positive changes happening in some families in Fiji.
One of major issues that these youth are addressing in the communities is an increase in the consumption of alcohol and drugs brought about by the loss of work. People feel that the only way to release their stress and burden is by making homebrew and taking drugs. One of Virtues Fiji key components is for our peer educators to have a transformative effect on young people’s character. They share their stories on how they use the virtues strategies to overcome the challenges they face.
20 settlements were visited over the past three months: eight in the central division, and twelve in the west with a total of two hundred people reached. There were forty men, fifty women, fifty children and sixty youth.
With the youth there were forty male and twenty female. 20 people with disabilities attended virtues training in either one of the two respective divisions.
The demand for training with The Virtues Project has increased in Fiji as people seek ways and means to deal with the challenges of the current situation. While Fiji did not have to deal with active covid 19 with the government rapid response to the virus with two week isolation for people coming into the country it has had to deal with the economic repercussions of the loss of tourism. Job losses, social distancing and low numbers allowed to gather has brought more stress with its dire results in an increase in abuse, suicide, rape and other social ills. In such an environment the demand for knowing how the Virtues Project can help has increased. In particular women and youth groups have called for help and our facilitators have risen to the demand with the assistance of GlobalGiving donations to cover travel and communications expenses.
This is what the facilitator has reported:
Virtues project Fiji was part of the Lautoka District Council of Social Services that went to a village in Yasawa Islands to distributed food rations to children whose parents were no longer working due to the economic crash following the layoffs from tourism as a result of the pandemic. During that trip I was invited to have a session with 25 youths which consist of thirteen males and twelve females. Fourteen of these youth used to be employed at nearby resort which are currently not operational due to the pandemic. Currently these youths only source of income is from the sale of the resources from the sea (fish, crabs, edible seaweed shell fish and octopus).
The evening talanoa (discussion) session covers the five strategies of the Virtues. There were few discussions about what they think that will keep them sustainable during this pandemic. Even though their land is not very fertile they were thinking to get into agriculture assistance to provide information and seedlings for vegetables to enable them to provide well balance meal at home. They are also doing root crop farming which they barter along with fish to their families in Lautoka or Suva in return of groceries. Since they have a lot of coconut trees the youth have taken the initiative to make sasa brooms and virgin oil as a source of income.
They realise that the five strategies empower them to become a responsible and confidence person drawing away the fear of being shy and laziness. It also empowers them to be use creativity in the current situation they are facing.
The other training which I conducted was for twenty young women leaders with their age range from thirteen to twenty five. It was a one day session where we discussed the five strategies and how it mould them to become young leaders. Most of these young women understood about virtues as it is part of the moral values program in school but understanding the purpose of the program was not clear to them until after our group work. Four of these young women are attending high school and they are happy that this program will help them in making better choices in their lives. The rest of the young women are attending universities and or other tertiary institutions. These young women were able to understand being a leader needs lot of understanding. They need to look deep into the heart of a matter to make a wise decision. They also realise the importance of listening as they realise this is something that is missing nowadays with youth being into Facebook and tiktok.
The young women have come up with the idea to meet once a week and discuss issues that currently affecting young women in their area and how they would be able to assist and also support local social services group in assisting these young women.
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