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
Children working with the puppers
Children working with the puppers

The work on protecting children from bullying and abuse slowed through the Christmas New Year period as families were busy with these activities. It gave the Virtues Project team time to reflect on what had been accomplished and what would be helpful to Fiji in 2017.

There are a number of new ventriloquists and puppeteers ready to work with the project in 2017. Many schools and communities are still waiting for materials to repair the damage done in the cyclone last year but they are still calling for training from the Virtues Project Fiji team to assist with the emotional recovery to find peacefulnbess and orderliness in the chaos that was created by the storm and floods which affected them in December 2016.

The five strategies of The Virtues Prpject are hard to explain, so it has been decided that the Virtues Project Fiji will use the title "Peacemakers' Tools" and this has already attracted a lot of interest. It has been recognised by government and the many Community Service Organisations in Fiji that bullying, abuse, rape and abuse of women and children in Fiji in particular have to be addressed. 

We look forward to your continued support as we tackle these issues in Fiji in partnership with other agencies and local support.

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What's Happening With The Ventriloquists? Students from the University of the South Pacific (USP) and youth from Lautoka and Suva who have trained to be ventriloquist puppeteers are now learning the Five Strategies of The Virtues Project™.  They appreciate the uniqueness and effectiveness of using puppets in their educational and artistic presentations. They love The Virtues Project™ and look forward to working with it during their coming University break period in 2017.

The community youth who were trained have been working with their puppets. One of them found that this skill can be used to de-stress his own life as he faces life’s challenges. The puppets work as an alter ego to find the virtues he needs to deal with his problems.

And in The Communities? The citizens of Koriopita Township near Lautoka City, in Ra Province are reaping the benefits of learning the Five Strategies of the Virtues Project™. These new skills are helping them to deal with issues that arise. The culture of the communities has changed from one of bullying to one of peace and harmony through the language of the virtues such as cooperation, compassion, and kindness. The CHILL skills (anti-bullying tools) the children have learned through the puppets enables them to have the courage to stand up and respectfully speak their mind and express their feelings. The climate of the communities is becoming one of greater joy, justice and unity.

In Val Hilliker's puppet shows the kids were engaged with magic, fascination with the puppets, and drama. There was one common problem, however. The shows given by Val were in English and the children did not fully understand what was being said. To help the children better understand, a young woman in Nadi took it upon herself to teach the children English. The children are now doing very well in English at school and the tutoring has improved other subjects as well.

The children at Nanukuloa Village and Koriopita treasure their puppets and use them to talk to one another and to the community about abuse and bullying.  They are helping the children to deal with the trauma, and challenges of living in tents with food and water shortages following the devastation from the cyclone.The strength of this puppet project is that everyone, particularly the children, find healing talking through their puppets. Intergenerational engagement occurs. No one can resist a puppet. What was a weakness - the initial puppet presentations were in English which the children did not understand well - became a strength. Children are now learning English, which benefits them all around and Fijians are now trained as puppeteers using The Virtues Project ™.

Puppet presentations in the Fijian language are being prepared. Those who were trained with Val Hilliker will take the puppets to the communities to present the material in the local language. The presentations will not only be in the language the children will understand but the scripts will be addressing the issues in a culturally sensitive manner that explains how to deal with bullying and abuse, and help them heal from the trauma of the recent cyclone.

Failing Forward...

Virtues Project Fiji is affecting change in the endemic cultural attitudes of bullying, abuse and intimidation.  Since 2002 Virtues Project Fiji has provided virtues training for teachers, parents community leaders, and even inmates in every prison in Fiji.  For three years they promoted ‘Virtues in the Media’ with radio, newspapers and Television presenting the virtues defined by The Virtues Project™. The media exposure caught the attention of the Commissioner for Prisons who endorsed training for the prisoners and staff for ten years.

We failed to achieve a sustainable application of the project in areas where it was introduced because we were unable to provide the ongoing support and materials necessary to sustain the work. We underestimated the financial resources that a sustained project would require and long-term consequences to funding resources that would occur with the weather disasters we have faced.  And probably our biggest failure was the failure to train the community and organizational leaders to use the 5 strategies in their own day to day activities. The strategies have to be modeled, not just talked about by the leaders.

It became clear from the experience of Virtues Project Fiji that to change the culture of bullying and abuse nationally, the change starts in the family. The villages where clusters of families live under the management of their elected councils and chiefs have already indicated that The Virtues Project™ provides the management tools to have a cooperative and peaceful community where it has been trialled. The government plans to provide training in the villages on a number of issues including, Parenting with The Virtues Project™. In the communities where the training was trialled, it was found that without fail, the community members wanted The Virtues Project™ Parent Training before anything else. Virtues Project Fiji is now seeking funds to ensure that this demand is met, and have enlisted the support of Vision Fiji to launch a virtues media campaign in 2017.

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University of the South Pacific (USP) Puppetering
University of the South Pacific (USP) Puppetering

REPORT # 2

Five students of the University of the South Pacific and a community worker who trained with Val Hilliker, world renowned ventriloquist and puppeteer, are ready to go out and share what they learned to the wider community and to teach children how to protect themselves from bullying and abuse. Fijian facilitators are already in various communities teaching the five strategies of The Virtues Project. www.virtuesproject.com Puppets and puppet-making help the children to engage in learning strategies that strengthen character so they can become healthy engaged learners.

 We are confident that local donors will continue to support this worthwhile effort. YOU CAN, TOO.

 In addition to the 2-week workshop at USP, Val did shows and workshops throughout Fiji during her 6 weeks there:

- Val returned to Koroipita to continue teaching puppetry as a way for children to learn their virtues and the five strategies of The Virtues Project. It is helping to create a more positive culture of resiliency, self-sufficiency, and stable environment for the children and success for the village. The puppets and Val help the children understand how to protect themselves. Puppets are an excellent way to engage students in their learning. The initial video for Global Giving was made at Koroipita. (a housing joint venture with community development at its heart http://www.rotary9830.org.au/ )

- At a special needs school, two children who had never responded to anything before Val's program, responded to it in a way that has prompted the administration to invite her back to serve all 14 special needs schools in Fiji.

 - TV One after school children’s program, GET SET, was able to reach thousands more children with the puppets. Val showed Ateca, the program's host, how to use the “Virtues Pick” for the moral education section of the show. They showed the viewers how to make 4 different types of puppets out of reclaimed-recycled materials easily found in Fijian homes.

 

 

A student with puppet made in the training program
A student with puppet made in the training program
Children at special needs school
Children at special needs school
Giving a hug to Lily the duck
Giving a hug to Lily the duck
Val share magic tricks and how they are done
Val share magic tricks and how they are done
"High 5" by Mr. C the caterpillar
"High 5" by Mr. C the caterpillar
Val returns to Koroipita
Val returns to Koroipita
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USP Center for Arts and Pacific Culture/VPF Team
USP Center for Arts and Pacific Culture/VPF Team

THANKS TO YOUR GENEROUS SPIRIT AND CHARITABLE GIVING, Val Hilliker, along with a suitcase full of new puppets (generously donated by Val to Virtues Project Fiji after hearing their puppets were ruined during the cyclone), arrived in Fiji on April 17th.  A radio interview on  MIX 94 FM started getting the word out that Val was back in Fiji. Then a meeting with Virtues Project Fiji's team  followed by a meeting of the minds with the University of the South Pacific (USP) Center for Arts and Pacific Culture staff  a training plan to work with Drama Studies students to become local ventriloquists, and Project Fiji Puppets are on the move...  

  • A three day workshop for youth was held in Lautoka at the Ministry of Youth and Sport Training Center. Eight youth were in attendance. The Ministry staff discussed their 'Seeds of Success' program which incorporates the Virtues Project,is eager to include the puppets to teach their program.  They also agreed that the youth in Lautoka associated with the Virtues Project in the past, that are attached to the Ministry of Youth program, will be trained this month. 
  • The first show was given at Nasau, Nadi Village near Nadi airport. Within the first thirty seconds they were laughing, laughter is the universal language. The children and their parents hung on every word I said or the puppets said. Their laughter was contagious and everyone settled in for the show. The Chill Skills were taught and everyone seemed to be hearing the ideas for the first time because they had never been shown how to stand up for themselves.  I applied the same strategies of the Chill Skills when they are afraid of the wind or rain. They seemed to just want to learn more about how to protect themselves from being picked on and so that is when Talai and Lina ( newly trained puppetiers) used puppets to deliver the Chill Skills in Fijian. The children and parents thanked us all profusely and really appreciated learning about how to protect themselves from being bullied.  Val carefully weaves in the Strategies of The Virtues Project interactively throughout the presentation. Children and adults in attendance learn about their gifts within, their virtues; strengths inside themselves like courage, gentleness and assertiveness that they can call on. After the show the parents of the children who saw the show got together to talk about the effect of the show. It was decided that the children needed to understand English better as this is the language of their education and one of the young women has volunteered to coach the children to improve their English. An added blessing for the children there!  Two more shows in other locations have also taken place.
  • University training with drama students begins May 1st! The students at the USP will receive the Virtues Project training as well as the puppet skills training voice and building puppets.  The undergraduate course which offers students the opportunity to use different artistic expressions to present their ideas on social issues can use dance, painting, song and drama.  The program is already growing as the dance department wants traing to incorporate the virtues into their dance program.  Devos on the Park, a hotel in Suva, donated a hotel room for the puppet team while they are in Suva.  A local resident donated a flat.  VPF is very grateful for the generosity shown in the Suva community.

Our vision is to continue the work that began last year with Fijian children affected by abuse and bullying, further traumatized recently by the devastating cyclone; the training and deployment of puppetiers throughout the country of Fiji, along with training by Virtues Facilitators in The Five Strategies of The Virtues Project for service organizations, parents and teachers, until every child and adult has access to the support, skills and upliftment to end the abuse, bullying and trauma; relief needed to be and feel safe and live their lives with more joy, hope and peace.  With your continued support we will! Thank you again for your generosity and charity in giving.

With Appreciation and Thankfulness,

Verona

 

 Ongoing training: Youth and University students – those who work with Val during her time in Fiji will continue to receive training support by Val via the internet.  All puppeteers will be trained in The Five Strategies of The Virtues Project and be monitored by VPF before deployment into the community.

Changes to training schedule:  The original project proposal included training school teachers. Cyclone Winston and the flooding that followed changed that schedule. Damage to the schools and loss of teaching days during and after the storm reduced school holidays from two to one week. Teachers are now under pressure dealing with lost teaching time and replacing materials, books and resources lost in the storm. The project will consider running a workshop for teachers in the first week of the school holidays in December with the training being done by VPF staff and hopefully with Val online for some sessions. 

Virtues Project Fiji Team
Virtues Project Fiji Team
Nanukuloa Ra show
Nanukuloa Ra show
Tent on former house foundation
Tent on former house foundation
Nasau, Nadi Village Show
Nasau, Nadi Village Show
Val and the Fiji Puppets are on the Move
Val and the Fiji Puppets are on the Move
Val, Lilly the Duck, Fijian child
Val, Lilly the Duck, Fijian child
Val teaching Fijian Boy
Val teaching Fijian Boy

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Organization Information

Virtues Project International Association

Location: Calgary, AB - Canada
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @VirtuesProject
Project Leader:
Verona Lucas
Calgary, AB Canada
$25,974 raised of $30,000 goal
 
592 donations
$4,026 to go
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