Island News

Building capacity for rural leaders

Written By : LEO NEINOKA. The district of Dawasamu, Tailevu-North underwent four trainings as part of its module one out of the six modules of training in building a capacity
02 Oct 2010 12:00

image Written By : LEO NEINOKA. The district of Dawasamu, Tailevu-North underwent four trainings as part of its module one out of the six modules of training in building a capacity for transformational leaders and decision-makers in the district. Those who can inspire community members into taking steps to build relationships among themselves that will also encourage inter- ethnic dialogue spaces between the i-taukei’s and the Indo-Fijian communities of Dawasamu.
The district of Dawasamu consists of nine villages, known for its sweet water melons and good fertile land for agriculture but also had its share of ethnic tensions in the coups of 2000. It also is the last district of Tailevu before Ra Province. Together with the Dawasamu district are the villages of:
lNasirotu (Naitasiri)
lWaisasavu/Navau (Naitasiri)
lKorobebe & Abaca villages of Western Vitilevu.
The Social Empowerment and Education Program [SEEP] recognises the need to be working on the issues of rural indigenous fijians in order that there may be a shift in perception.
This will allow for the better and more efficient use of resources for the benefit of the nation. Although the target group for this work is primarily the rural i-taukei’s, SEEP also aims to address the issues of Indo-Fijians living within the district in a bid to slowly integrate the two major ethnic groups in dialogue on common issues of concern.
With years of experience in this work SEEP believes that before we even dialogue with other ethnic groups, the i-taukei’s need to have safe space of dialogue within its communities first.
This will lead to engaging them to analyse change, land issues and leadership for collective action and also opens space for women and youth to participate more fully in community discussions.
This year part of SEEP’s strategy is to:
l Lay the platform to build good relationships within the 27 communities it is working with.
l Engage and enable traditional and elected leaders, women and youth leaders to have increased knowledge about their roles and responsibilities as leaders.
l Increase dialogue between community leaders and their members and vice-versa.
l Encourage community leaders to have a better understanding of their own communities.
l Whereby the community themselves can identify issues where they will need mediation.
The indigenous communities in Fiji own 87.9 per cent of all land and resources and the two major issues in which many of Fiji’s continuing socio-political and economic challenges are manifested.
Therefore SEEP believes there is a growing acknowledgement even among i-taukeis themselves, that the issues facing Fiji have a lot to do with the indigenous peoples understanding. Also their willingness to resolve their own issues among each other. So that they can embark on the journey of multi-cultural democracy in the modern context. This is a challenge, though.
SEEP links very closely with the Provincial Councils of Tailevu and Naitasiri in the empowerment and education process in 27 villages within these two provinces.
Although changes in the perceptions of rural community people takes time because early social formation had modelled us as such.
The skills which we learned and practiced gave us an understanding and control over our minds.
Apart from deepening their understanding of their roles as leaders, the module one of community trainings in Dawasamu district tried to lay the foundation for participants to understand the combination of their emotions and how the indigenous psyche views the outside world.
We must bring the mind from miles away to the activities of the moment and abate the clatter in our heads to focus on the physical reality surrounding our body, and the sensations from within it, – we will gradually experience a surprising sense of well-being and deeper awareness of our potential.
SEEP believes in the fact, that it is our perception of past events that triggers our reactions and suggests that we can have far more influence over our responses than we normally realise.
By taking responsibility for our own inner processes we can put ourselves back in control. We will then have a choice as to allow ourselves to be influenced positively or negatively.
The participants in the Dawasamu training began the process of exploring their inner strengths and identified the negativity in blaming others for the wrongs of the past.
One participant identified the need to build bridges within themselves and across other ethnic groups and the need to take responsibility.
This by accepting the consequences and questioning themselves of the choices and new decisions to make way for change for the common good.
The Dawasamu module 1 training consists of:
1. Traditional leaders training held in Nataleira Village
2. Training of the women of the district held in Delakado village
3. Youth training at Silana village
4. Elected leaders (leaders of CBOs, church, youth & women leaders and village headmen) held in Natadradave village.
SEEP is now in the process of preparing for its training for module 2 in the two districts of Noemalu and Nabobuco in Naitasiri.

(The writer is an advocacy coordinator for the Social Empowerment Education Programme (SEEP). Views expressed are his and not of the Fiji Sun)

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