Monday, October 29, 2007


TEENAGER Doris Baleimakogai dedicated her victory in the Vodafone Gold Town Carnival to her mother, Ema Lidya Kivi, who died two weeks ago.

The Class Eight student of Vatukoula Convent School vowed to work with the carnival committee in helping the needy, saying that was a passion held dear by her mother.

"I am very excited to be crowned Miss Gold Town and I will always work with the committee to help the needy," Dori, 13, said.

"I want to dedicate my victory to my mother who passed away two weeks ago because she was the one who encouraged me to take part in the event."

Mrs Kivi was buried in Vatukoula on Saturday, October 13, just four days before the carnival started

Doris' father, Romeo, said he believed his daughter's victory was reward for the hardwork and sacrifices Doris made looking after her mother.

"Our family has been really struggling because my elder son is in a coma at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva after a serious accident last month while my wife passed away two weeks ago," he said.

"After she was buried on Saturday, I told Doris she should continue participating in the carnival because it was something her mother worked very hard for even when she was bedridden," he said.

Mr Kivi said he only hoped his wife could have been present when Doris was crowned Miss Gold Town.

Carnival trustees committee chairman Chandra Singh said they raised $50,300, with over $4000 donated by Fijians in


Adapted from Fijitimes Online

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


FOR 13-year-old student, Doris Catherine Baleimakogai participating in the Vodafone Gold Town Carnival that gets underway today is more than just helping the poor and disadvantaged.
The Class Eight student of Vatukoula Convent School is also taking part in the four-day event in memory of her mother, Ema Lidya Kivi who died last week.
Even though her family suffered a major tragedy, Doris said her father, Romeo Kivi remained adamant she participate because her mother wanted her to be part of the carnival.
Doris, who is Miss Civil Servants, said her parents were very passionate about helping the poor and disadvantaged communities in the area so it was the least she could do for her mother.
She said when her mother died, she was prepared to pull out of the competition but her father told her to continue for the sake of her mum. The youngest of seven siblings said even though she was the youngest contestant, she relied on the faith of others to get her through the event.
Doris said being able to help the poor was something she always wanted to do and this was the best opportunity to reach as many people as possible.
"I am a little worried about the public speeches but I know I will be able to manage because I have a lot of support," she said.

Adapted from Fijitimes Online


Believing in oneself and moving positively in life despite difficulties is what Jona Moli Bukasoqo believes in. The 22-year-old who is now enrolled in a carpentry and joinery course at the National Youth Training Centre at Nasau in Sigatoka has struggled a lot in life before ending at the vocational school.

He joined the school in March this year for the one year course. Prior to this, he was making a living from farming and fishing in Levuka. He has learnt to live on his own and says he always has the 'can do' attitude.

"My mum is from Tailevu and my dad is from the Lomaiviti Group but I never really got to stay with them as a family. My parents always have been on their own and moved on with their lives and I have learnt to look after myself," said Jona. He is the second youngest in a family of five children and is a school dropout.

"I went to Uluibau Primary School in Moturiki in the Lomaiviti Group. I stayed with my dad's relatives when I was young and then I was sent to Levuka to stay with my mum's relatives. I attended Delana Methodist High School in Levuka but I went up to Form Five only. My mum was supporting and financing my school needs but things got hard when I was in Form Five so I stopped schooling," he said.

Since then Jona was expected to survive on his own and he turned towards farming and fishing to make a living for himself in Levuka. "I was planting yaqona and going out to fish to earn money and I survived on that. I did not want to be a burden on relatives I was staying with so I had to do something on my own," said Jona.

Before resorting to farming and fishing, Jona was working for a company in Walu Bay but he was unhappy with the pay and the working condition. "I was working for long hours six days a week and the pay was not good so I moved away from that job and went to Levuka. There I knew I could do things on my own and earn better too," he said.

"I don't want to rely on somebody or make a living from someone's support. I want to do something on my own and become someone on my own."

Even though Jona was making a living for himself from the resources he obtained from the land and sea, he had higher aims at the back of his head. "While I was farming in Levuka, at the back of my head I knew I didn't want to do this forever but study and become someone in life so I kept looking for opportunities. I applied here last year and started in March this year. We don't have to pay for anything here except an enrollment fee of $60," he said.

Jona had also applied to the Centre for Appropriate Technology and Development in Nadave in Nausori last year but missed out on the interview. "I had a boil on my leg when they called me for an interview so I could not go but doing engineering there is what I really want to do. After completing my course here, I will apply again. Doing engineering is my dream and I know I will be there one day," he said.

He has bigger dreams which he plans to achieve on his own.

"I don't even want to be attached to my parents but I want to struggle on my own and get somewhere in life on my own. I have never got the full support and attention I needed so that's why I prefer doing everything on my own. I would like to go and explore what's availabe overseas and perhaps settle there in future," said Jona.

"There are some people I would really like to thank the youth coordinator in Lomaitiviti, Master Saimoni Dobui who always encouraged me to strive higher in life and kept telling me that I can do it on my own. Secondly, I would like to thank Ms Manaini Rokovunisei from the Ministry of Youth and Master Joseph Fuata who looks after us here," he said.

Jona's motto in life is 'Never lose hope no matter what'.

"Hope of getting somewhere and for things to get better should always be there. This is what I would like to say to all the young people out there who are in the same boat as I was once. Struggling is a part of life and we should not give up," he said.

Adapted from October 24th, 2007

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Litiana finds niche in ceramics

FOR Litiana Vuniwaqa making things from ceramic is her first step to achieving her dream of being an artist and putting her work on display in an art gallery or sell online. She was recently part of the first-ever graduation for CreatiVITI Pottery Apprentices, held earlier this month in Mountain View, Nadi.

The CreatiVITI Pottery apprenticeship program was launched in December 2005. The design of this program reflects that ceramics involves an extensive range of knowledge and skills, some fairly complex.
Repeated practice over time is needed to master some of the techniques to a point where results are marketable.

A one-month probation period followed by a further five months of job experience and training is the standard structure of the program. The goals of the apprenticeship program may simply be exposure, work experience for school-leavers and others trying to move into the general job market.

Litiana was among six young people who completed this pioneer training program, gaining skills and knowledge needed as a foundation for building careers in contemporary ceramics. She has learned how to harvest clay from the field, test and process it.

Her training included theory and practical work in a range of pottery-forming processes, using modern tools and a special oven where clay pieces are heated to over 1000 degrees Celcius, making them strong, waterproof, and durable.

The shy lass from Dreketi, Qamea, said art in the form of drawings and sketches was something she had always been involved in. "This is something new for me but is very interesting because I play around with the designs and try new things out," she said. "It's no turning back because this is another avenue of earning a living for myself.

"I am still very young and my journey is just only beginning." Litiana, 21, was educated at Seaqaqa Indian Primary School before going to Seaqaqa Central, in Labasa, and completing seventh form at Penang Sangam, in Rakiraki.

She is the youngest among nine siblings of four brothers and four sisters. She said the hands-on community educational project was part of the work CreatiVITI did in developing and promoting art and craft in Fiji.

"One of my friends talked me into signing up for the program and that it would be worth giving a try," she said. "I have been doing clay pottery and ceramics for the last nine months, it's early days but it's something I am keen on getting this thing working.

"I found that it's one way of expressing myself in terms of the type of designs I come up with.
"I get my designs from my surroundings, nature and my imagination. "I have just completed one of my very first contracts with one of the hotels in the West.

"The design was my instructor Maria Rova's and it took me three months to put together.
"The time spent on each project differs as it depends on the design. "But the next big project I am working on right now is for the upcoming Christmas craft fair to be staged in Suva.

"I think young people should not shy away from this. "If they have the talent in producing extraordinary art work that makes people sit up and take notice, they should continue and not stop there," he said.

Adapted from - October 23rd, 2007

Monday, October 22, 2007


Barbara Doton was surprised at being crowned the Vodafone Ba Carnival queen and Miss Charity on Saturday night.
Ms Doton, 20, a law student with the University of Huddersfield, in the United Kingdom, walked away a double winner, saying that she did not expect it at all.
"I live here in Ba and I am studying online," she said.
Ms Doton, a daughter of dentist, Dr Maria Doton, said she was the last contestant to enter the carnival.
Sponsored by 4R Electrical, Ms Doton said she entered the pageant a week before the carnival, hoping to have fun. "This was obvious during the carnival," she said.
She said being a bookworm, a weeklong carnival was a break from reading her law books.
Ms Doton has spent the past 16 years in Ba.
"I am originally from the Philippines, but I was born in Suva," she said. "We moved to Nadi and now live permanently in Ba."
She said although she had never taken part in such a contest, she believed her exposure to places like Suva and New Zealand had helped.
"I spent a year doing Foundation at the Central Queensland University in Suva before moving to New Zealand where I lived for a year."
Ms Doton said she was glad to take part and give something back to the community.
Organising committee chairman Rishi Kumar said the carnival to raise money for the Ba soccer team was a success but he could not reveal how much Ms Doton or the carnival had raised.

Adapted from Fijitimes Online

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Naikatinis talents, skills raise eyebrows in New Zealand

Watching Api Naikatini play rugby, it seems absurd that he has spent much of the past few years with his head crushed between front rowers thighs.

The 22-year-old has athleticism and skill most with a 1.95m frame can only dream of. His loping one-handed runs with the ball in hand, skilful lineout work and seemingly tireless work around the park have made Wellingtons blindside flanker one of the finds of the season.
But till this season, Naikatini has had to temper much of that natural ability to fulfill the less glamorous role of a lock.

"I actually played first-five till under-14s. I used to like to do a few dropped goals and the goal kicking, but the under-16s put me to lock because I was growing too big," he said laughing. "It is quite new to me playing at six. I have been a lock for so long, but its been quite easy to adjust once you get some advice from the experienced boys."

Naikatini has been a revelation in his first year of Air New Zealand Cup and not surprisingly has warmed to the freedom of the loose forwards. After starting the season on the reserves bench, Naikatini got a start against Counties-Manukau in round six and hasnt looked back. The same could be said for his fledgling rugby career since he arrived in New Zealand for his final year of school.

Born in Nadi, Naikatini attended Nasinu Secondary School and then Marist Brothers College, the school that produced current Fiji national coach Illi Tabua and former Crusader Marika Vunibaka. Selected in the Fijian Schools side to tour Australia and Tonga, he caught the eye of talent scouts from New Zealand and gained a rugby scholarship at Wanganui City College.

His brother Illiki, a member of the current Manawatu squad, had moved to Wellington to try his luck with Northern United in 2002 and Api followed in 2004. Then-Norths coach Eddie Ellison recalls a reluctant young lock who hadnt realised his potential.

"I called him up into the premier squad pretty early on, but then I would turn up at training and hed be missing. He kept going back to the colts and I kept dragging him back into the premier squad."

Ellison, now Wellington Development team coach, said Naikatinis height and jumping ability had limited his chances to play blindside flanker at club level. "We played him mainly at lock because we didnt really have anyone tall enough and we had a lot of good loose forwards. This year Norths had a couple of bean poles and he got a bit more of a run.

"Apis so quick on the jump - thats one of his real strengths as a lock - but the other parts of his game have really improved. "He used to sort of do those dancing runs with the ball a lot and turn it over with 50-50 passes, but hes really worked on that and (Lions forwards coach) Jamie Joseph has obviously done some good work there."

A New Zealand Colts trialist last year, Naikatini is picked by many to be a bolter in the Hurricanes Super 14 squad at the end of the month.
Adapted from October 20, 2007

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Maya Breitburg-Smith says the environment is an important thing because it is connected with our personal and economic growth. She said if the area outside your home is not taken care of you are not going to be healthy, and you will be spending a lot on health care.

A lot of time people dont realise that the environment plays a crucial part of our life, she said. Maya as everyone calls her has been in the country a little over a year but already she has been involved in environmental awareness in the Tikina of Komave on the Coral Coast.

I met Maya while out on an assignment and was interested to know how she had adapted so well in the Tikina of Komave thousands of miles away from her homeland. The shy soft-spoken lass was a bit hesitant to be interviewed until she was encouraged by a few villagers. What startled me was the way she freely conversed in the Navosa dialect with everyone in Korolevu. Maya is originally from Maryland just outside Washington DC in the United States.

The 24-year-old peace corps volunteer and a graduate in environmental science has been working with the vusu environment committee to help the community focus on preserving the environment and improving environmental practices. Maya arrived in Fiji on June 1 last year and completed her training in Lawaki Village just outside Lautoka.

I wasnt really sure what to do with my degree so I joined the peace corps where I get to travel to some place new for two years and try something new, she said. When I started as a peace corps volunteer in the villages we started building compost toilets and doing recycling projects. We also organised a Clean Compound competition to see how best villagers keep their surroundings clean.

This would allow villagers to separate their rubbish. They would also ensure standing water and drains were cleared at the villages. Maya said the one thing she enjoyed and made a point of learning was the local dialect. Picking up the dialect took a while although we had training at Lawaki Village. But I am learning every day, she said.

When I went to the village I tried not to speak in English although the people here speak it very well and it is one of my goals to speak the dialects. I went to the bose ni yasana in Nadroga and when everyone from my district being Navosa was speaking I was able to understand them but when people from Sigatoka started speaking I was lost.

It takes time to learn the dialects and is a good experience because you get to meet new people and eat new foods and we also laugh about our funny experiences. Everyone has been welcoming but of course you would miss home and your family. I get homesick but communication with those back home isnt really that hard. I have a mobile phone that I use and there are email shops in town and being able to reach out to my family helps a lot.

It helps a lot that I am always surrounded by people here at the villages and it helps shake off my homesick blues and they are very friendly and caring.

Adapted from the 17 October 2007