Education  Fiji Project #23260

Changing the Culture of Violence in Fiji

by Virtues Project International Association
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Changing the Culture of Violence in Fiji
Changing the Culture of Violence in Fiji
Changing the Culture of Violence in Fiji
Changing the Culture of Violence in Fiji
Changing the Culture of Violence in Fiji
Changing the Culture of Violence in Fiji
Changing the Culture of Violence in Fiji
Changing the Culture of Violence in Fiji
Changing the Culture of Violence in Fiji
Changing the Culture of Violence in Fiji
Changing the Culture of Violence in Fiji
young women at workshop
young women at workshop

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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The youth volunteer group trained with Virtues
The youth volunteer group trained with Virtues

REPORT JUNE 2020

Since our last report, the world has changed. By the time covid 19 entered Fiji via people returning to the country from overseas the government was able to react quickly with the first response to lock down the city of Lautoka where the first case appeared. The population did not fully understand why these apparently harsh conditions were being imposed on them and the medical staff and police had to travel around the communities to explain what was going on. The youth who were trained in the Virtues Project were able to travel with these teams and assist with using the language of the virtues in the meaning of obedience, patience, acceptance and so on. The other members of the teams were very impressed with the way  this language helped them get their message across and asked a lot of questions about the project. 

Some of the youth had employment and this ceased with the economic crisis that followed the health crisis and they wanted to do more with the Virtues training and more of the youth wanted to learn these skills. 

In April there were 20 youth who did the virtues introductory program for five days.  Despite the curfew and the social distancing, they were able to get through the 5 days introductory 

They discussed the topic that was given by Linda Kavelin Popov to Be SOCIAL - Build community to come together virtually to share meaningful conversations. 

They also discussed things that can be done during this Covid-19 lockdown and there were quite interesting ideas coming from the youth on how we can move forward.

Twelve of these youth were employed at the various companies but were laid off during this crisis. The other eight youth are universities students. 

The first day for the two hours they learned about the 5 strategies and discussed how important it is to use these tools during this period where people are confused, frustrated, depressed and lonely. 

The rest of the four days the group discussed things that can keep them going forward. 

There shared about the Social media page on Barter for Better Fiji where they can offer their services in cleaning compounds, maintenance work and baking in exchange to groceries.  And few of the youths have tried this barter system and they find it exciting. 

Other activities included learning how to keep the children interested in their school work. Instead of spending time on social media they have offered their services in helping the children with their tasks and in doing so have found it more and more interesting to give service.  

Another idea that was also discussed was how they can help out in doing backyard gardens.  They come up with ideas that each one will buy a packet of different seed.  They will consult about which one in the group has the biggest backyard and they will plant all the seeds and transplant it to their individual household.  They will help each other as a group to set up their home gardens. 

They have noted while doing those things it will keep them busy and not bored during this lockdown. 

The youth agreed that they would share these ideas with other individuals, communities, friends and families around Fiji because this is the only thing that will keep us going if we all work collectively which is social cohesion in practice. 

From this a work plan was discussed so that each of the 20 youth participants would engage with 20 households each month. Virtues Project Fiji will provide a travel allowance to enable the youth to get the buses and carriers needed to get to the locations where they are carrying out their service. They will meet fortnightly with the master facilitator to share their experiences, lessons learned and develop their skills. A focus on the use of the Virtues Pick was discussed as well as what it means to be social and build communities virtually and have meaningful conversations. 

These youth have formed an excellent team and they participated in the in the Drug Free campaign at the beginning of June at Lautoka which is a volunteering program. 

In addition, work continues with meetings and training families to address the issues around the family stress with the lockdown and helping children to deal with the bullying and abuse. As has occurred elsewhere there has been an increase in family violence as people face economic hardship and isolation. 

The master facilitator, Talei, spent three days visiting Benau settlement in the outskirts of Ba township dealing with ten single women who are trying their best to put food on their table.  These women are destitute. Talei was able to correspond with the Lautoka District Council of Social Service to help them with food rations and she also liaised with certain organisations to support them in their need.  Even though they also receive money from social welfare it is not meeting their needs. 

Talei contacted the agriculture department to supply them with seedling for their home garden project and the department will be delivering it today 5th June..

Youth at training session
Youth at training session
Setting out to help with gardening activities
Setting out to help with gardening activities
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Puppeteer
Puppeteer

THE PUPPETS

The youth who went to the Yasawa Islands in the middle of 2019 to present the virtues and how to deal with issues such as bullying and abuse with puppets finally returned to the main island just before Christmas.

They reported that they noticed that when they used puppets, they created opportunities for the children to talk. The use of puppets allowed the children to ask questions and express their thoughts. The children really loved the use of puppets because it develop their communicative skills, especially when they felt relaxed as they talked with the puppet.

The challenges faced by the puppeteers was that they felt they needed to spend more time with children who asked a lot of thought provoking questions. The puppeteers had to set clear boundaries for themselves. They felt it was best to have parents around when they were conducting a puppet show.

When two kids fought with each other the youth used the puppet to address their problem.

Most of the stories they presented were based on bible stories with a moral as these children attend Church with their parents and understand this context.

Apart from the puppet show with children the youth had evening talanoa (talk) sessions with parents to discuss the importance of raising a child and what are their responsibility as a parent.

Parents were also told how their children shared their storieswith the puppets about what was going on in their lives and what the children wished for in their future,

PARENTING

Requests for the facilitators to attend meetings in communities to teach them parenting skills are constantly coming in to the Virtues Project office. This report is about some of these meetings.

Naibalebale & Najia Villages:

There were 120 people participated on the two villages. There were 35 men, 30 women, 25 youth and 30 children.

Soso Village:

There were fifty people involve in the puppeteers program

There were 17 men, 14 women, 9 youth and 10 children

Yaqeta Village:

There 25 people involve 6 Men, 8 women, 4 youth & 7 children

Eroni & Tukai did a puppet show program for children which highlight the 5 strategy of the Virtues Project. One strategy was presented per show each day and after each show there were discussions about what they saw. It was seen that the children understand the issues better using the puppet.

The only challenges they faced in the community is when at times there is an unforeseen circumstance either death or village special meeting they have to wait for few more days to be able to finish the strategy. The youth were only conducting training to only interested Tokatoka or Mataqali members as per their leader’s request.

Vaivai Community, Lautoka

There were only 20 children involve. The puppet program was conducted on a weekend which the youth were able to cover the 5 strategies.

Delai Tomuka Community, Lautoka

There were 60 people involve 5 men, 10 women, 20 youth and 25 Children

The puppeteers were kindly request by their church members to conduct a Virtues parenting. They use the puppet for their presentation to youth and children and they explain to adults the 5 strategy of the Virtues Program. The youth conduct evening visitation for the 5 consecutive days.

Naikavaga, Bua

Akesa and Selema are the two women who live in Lautoka but was asked by their family members back in the village to conduct a women outreach program so they approach me if I could allow them to take some virtues material and share about the 5 strategy and also the role and responsibility of being a responsible parent.

There were 30 women attended the presentation from various settlement near their village.

Nasinu village

I was asked by the member of a tokatoka to conduct Virtues parenting consultation for 3 days. It was held at the Levuka. There were 25 people attended 10 men and 15 women. I explain to them about the 5 strategy and how it works in my family life. I’ve encouraged parents to be more vigilant with their children. Parents were reminded to be aware of the social issues affecting Fiji and it’s the responsible of the parents to equip them with these Virtues tool to be able to deal with circumstances when need arise. Youth were told on how to be responsible and to tackle peer pressure and changes happening around them. They have to embrace the Virtues in their lives to be able to see what their purpose in life is.

Virtues Project Fiji facilitators need to return to these communities to assess the impact of their having learned of the five strategies and how they are being applied in their lives.

HUMAN RIGHTS

Human Rights issues are clearly addressed with the use of the Virtues Project and its focus on understanding and using the virtues strategies. Other agencies dealing with Human Rights in Fiji are becoming aware of how The Virtues Project works to give people an understanding and practical approach to address human rights issues. Virtues Project Fiji facilitators have been asked to attend meetings with interested organisations to learn what can be done. This is ongoing.

Workshop participants
Workshop participants
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Women at Rural Women's Day celebrations
Women at Rural Women's Day celebrations

Virtues Project Fiji has been very active these last few months.

Puppets – the puppeteers are about to return to the main island having spent months in the Yasawa Islands with the villages there and teaching the children about the virtues with their puppets. Another report will be forthcoming when they return shortly.

Youth leadership – 25 youth from a church group near Suva came together for a boot camp.

 The theme for the boot camp was the Role of A Good Leader a Digital world.

The youth were told that they were not allowed to bring any gadget at all during their camping. 

We now live a digital era, where anything and everything seems to be ruled by technology.  It was quite amazing to see the youth adjusting them without relying on their electronic gadget.

For the first evening the youth were taught how to light a fire using firewood for cooking.  It was a struggle to some of them, but using their virtues of responsibility and unity they were able to light the fire.

Emphasis was given to the youth on the importance of setting clear boundaries as we live in a digital era. They discussed some disadvantage of relying on a digital era, the first most important is to have personal privacy in the digital world and that's on top of the dangers of your personal data being stolen or sold. For instance, everybody has the ability to take photos and video footage on their mobile phone, then post it online.

Employers can search for people online and maybe find unflattering photographs, or see those expressing controversial opinions in social media or blogs.  Controlling your personal information is very difficult and sometimes impossible.

There is an increasing tendency for people to socialize and communicate via digital devices rather than through real life contact. This can easily lead to a sense of disconnect and isolation.

As part of the program youths were taught some life skills program by some skilled trainers to help them enjoy what real life is. 

The youth were asked what are the first thing you see each morning and the last thing you see before you fall asleep at night.

Is it the face of your loved ones, a book, or the icy glow of an electronic device? While we would all like to believe it’s the face of our significant other, it’s more likely our smartphone screen.

We’re drowning, but it’s not because of the technology itself. Rather, we’re participating in our own demise by failing to set healthy tech boundaries

Setting boundaries around technology use is a great first step towards controlling the flood of technology in our everyday lives. Although it can be difficult to create new habits, after a period of adjustment you’ll find you are happier and more present.

It was so amazing during our weekend there was no disturbance for any phone call or message since everybody was concentrating and enjoying what is like when living in a world without digital technology.  There was a lot of team building where youth were taught how to catch fish, swimming, playing cards, putting traps for wild pig, making camp and evening story telling sitting around the campfire etc.  There was a sense of connectivity amongst the group.  The youth have more time sharing their stories and listening to their friend stories.  They were able to work together collectively in making decision for their day to day program.

The outcome of the camp is that the youth understand how to set clear boundaries for themselves to be able to keep them safe in living in a digital era.

Working with Human Rights issues -

I was able to attend the training and did presentation on the invitation that was given to us to address Grassroots Responsiveness to Human Rights Abuse.  I shared on our tools and also  stories of our prison program and also families and communities which also address human rights.  The two days workshop discussed mainly the UN Mechanism on Human Right.  What strikes me how our program can also weave into the human rights program.  A qualified psychotherapist who came all the way from India to talk on how to counsel people who have their rights being abused.  She asked me how I deal with my situation in Fiji I mention that we use spiritual companion tool.  She asked a personal question to me what is my coping mechanism since its a very stressful event when you working with inmates.  I told her that I used my detachment and also it took me 3 weeks to cope with reality by sharing stories with my husband and do recreational program with my children.  She really acknowledge my answer and told me that I have a very good coping mechanism.  She mention that detachment is so much important in counseling.

I showed them how the river of life activities work by sharing one of our group member story.  It is so shocking how this youth has been sexually abused by his seniors while he still in year 1 & 2 at a boarding school in Yasawa.  The participants were really shocked on how appalling was his story and what really amazed me once he reach the stage of being push around by family member left school at form 3, smoking and even wanting to commit suicide  he had some positive friend who encourage him to remember that he has a purpose on his life.  The facilitator really knowledge our river of life activity. 

The workshop was a very successful one since they have acknowledge the work done by Virtues Project Fiji. 

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Since our last report a lot of work has been going on in Fiji to raise the awareness of the positive impact on dealing with abuse when using the strategies of The Virtues Project™. At a recent meeting with UNDP it was recognized that The Virtues Project™ addresses Human Rights, the Rights of the Child and produced a society of peacefulness and prosperity.

A workshop for youth was held in the May School holidays and was attended by six youth working with The Virtues Project who shared with the other youth how it worked for them. Then there have been more meetings with women’s groups to explain to them how important parenting is to giving their children the skills they need to be responsible adults.

The master facilitator of Virtues project Fiji has been able to attend meetings called by the UN agencies and donors to address the increasing problems of drug abuse, youth committing crimes, rape and abuse of children and women. At a recent meeting the Virtues Project representative explained how The Virtues Project was working to change the way people behaved, improve parenting skills and made a big difference in the communities. It was clearly recognized that The Virtues Project promotes Human Rights and the Rights of the Child.

In light of the failure of all other NGOs and government departments to achieve any lasting result The Virtues Project™ is being considered for greater support to assist in dealing with these issues. It is the aim of Virtues Project Fiji to train facilitators in other agencies and to have the training in the strategies of the Virtues Project incorporated into their own programs.

This is a work in progress and the support that has been provided by our donors is making a big difference to the capacity of the Virtues Project Fiji to meet this demand


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Virtues Project International Association

Location: Calgary, AB - Canada
Website:
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Twitter: @VirtuesProject
Project Leader:
Verona Lucas
Calgary, AB Canada
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