Saturday, May 24, 2008


SULIANA Makarita Saverio is a young woman with a great passion for music. She is a talented and professional violinist who is going places.
The first thing you notice about this 19-year-old is her beautiful smile and how strikingly graceful she is.
She is one of Fijis very own violinists, and a talented one at that. She is a member of the quartet, the Davui Ensemble.
Davui Ensemble is a small local musical group which plays the violin, viola and cello. The group aims to expose these instruments to people here in Fiji with the hope of getting interested locals to learn to play them and hopefully join the group.
Music is Sulianas escape from studies. The first year MBBS student at the Fiji School of Medicine is the daughter of Kaurasi and Akata Saverio. She is the eldest in a family of two. Her brother Oscar is 14. Suliana is shy but as the subject is music, she is eager to talk. She says music gives her a sense of identity.
Music is a part of me, it makes me who I am, she said matter-of-factly.
Its my language for expressing things I feel that I cant put into words. Music to me is a way of expressing myself. It helps me relax and relieves my stress from studies. Its my get-away from all the hustle and bustle life dishes out. To become a professional violinist was Sulianas childhood dream.
I would fantasise that I was a violinist with my ukulele and sasa-stick; trying to be like the professionals I saw on TV, she said.
The young teenager later discovered that playing a violin was not as simple as it was shown on TV. The violin was the only instrument she wanted to play ever since she was first introduced to musical instruments.
Its an instrument Ive always wanted to play because I love its sound and also because its not a commonly played instrument here.
Even when I began my music lessons on the piano at the age of seven, I always dreamt of learning to play the violin, she said.
She was 15 when she got her first chance.
I first learnt to play the violin in 2004. I started my violin lessons at USP with the former music lecturer (also the founder of our musical group, Davui Ensemble) Ueta Solomona. After he and his family returned to Samoa, I continued my lessons with Irene Cloin former Davui Ensemble leader who returned to the Netherlands with her family), she explained.
The first time she laid hands on the violin was an exciting and a memorable moment for Suliana. She couldnt wait to start the lessons.
Seeing a violin for the first time and getting the chance to learn to play it was a stepping stone for me in music, because it was an instrument I had always wanted to learn to play, she said. Learning how to play the violin was a challenge for her and she loved the challenge.
It wasnt easy and I found it difficult at first, but at the same time I enjoyed the challenge of learning something new, she said.
Unlike a guitar, there are no frets on the finger board, so to avoid hitting flat notes fingering must be precise. The other challenging thing is using a bow to play, because improper bowing gives a really screechy sound, she said. Suliana lists her faith, family and friends as the most important things in her life.
The young woman, who is originally from Juju district, is actively involved in the Rotuman Community church choir.
Apart from playing Violin, Suliana loves listening to music, playing volleyball, reading, watching movies and surfing the net.
Dont live for tomorrow what you can do today. For me, it not only applies to not leaving assignments or studies to the last minute but also not passing up any opportunity you get in life, she said.

Adapted from Fijtimes Online


FARMING is the major project for the youth of Cakaudrove Province.
For the 14 districts in the province, each youth group has to have a farming project whether it be cultivating dalo or yaqona.
The project is compulsory.
Cakaudrove youth coordinator Anare Sikoa said for the past four years, the youths have made farming compulsory.
"Some youths drop out of school and stay in the village while others who stay in school sometimes don't get through to tertiary institutions. So we have made farming projects compulsory so that they can have something to fall back on," Mr Sikoa said.
"Employment opportunities in the rural areas are limited so farming yaqona and dalo is the best option because it earns more than white collar jobs."
Every month, district reps submit a report to Mr Sikoa and the committee on the progress of their farms. For the girls their preoccupation is mat weaving and handicraft work.
The money earned by the youth groups is given to the individual member who owns the farm.
"We just motivate them and push them through with their farming, and assist others start new farms. But the individual members who own the farm are responsible for the harvest," Mr Sikoa said.
"Whatever money they earn belongs to them. Most have rural bank accounts in which they deposit their earnings for their future plans."
Such plans include further studies, building their own homes in the village, expanding their farms or starting up businesses.
"This is another area we concentrate on and that is to encourage our youth groups to do further studies and educate themselves but to always keep their farms because it's financial support for their plan."
Mr Sikoa said they also help the youths market their produce.
"Fishing is another area we encourage because it also gives good returns.
"We are training them to be responsible - for themselves, their families and their future."

Adapted from Fijitimes Online

Saturday, May 17, 2008


THERE is always something about an artwork or craftwork that depicts the world around us.
For an artist such as James Epi Satavu Tabulawaki, putting thoughts and creativity into carving wood sculptures is inspiring.
James returned to Fiji more that year ago after spending about 12 years in the Land of the Long White Cloud. While in Wellington, he mastered the art of wood carving after learning the skill from Maori friends.
Born and bred in Fiji, James is of Fijian and Samoan decent. His father Sairusi Tabulawaki is a policeman from Nadroga while his mother, Maria Maisema worked as a diplomat for the New Zealand embassy in Fiji.
Sixth in a family of seven children, James was brought up at Sigatoka Village. Like many young boys coming of age, James never thought about what he wanted to do in life.
"When I was young, I didn't think about what I would do. We had a simple upbringing. I attended primary school at Mount Saint Mary in Nadi. In 1994, we moved to New Zealand and lived in Wellington. I then attended Auckland Grammar. I was able to make a lot of friends and some of them were Maori. They taught me how to carve.
"At first I didn't like it but over time I learned how to appreciate the art. I became interested in wood carving. It made me want to get back to my culture and learn more about my heritage but this wasn't something I planned or ever dreamed of doing."
In 2002, he attended a Maori school to learn more about wood carving. He returned to Fiji at the end of 2006 and put his carving work on hold. He said he did not do much upon his return to Fiji because he did not have the time for it. Like most youths, James spent most of his time hanging with friends and partaking in the occasional grog sessions. However, a turning point in his life was meeting with renowned local artist Craig Marlow whose mother is Liebling Marlow, the first Miss Hibiscus in 1956.
"I met Craig and told him I did carvings back in New Zealand. He took me to join the National Trust of Fiji where I did voluntary work at the Sigatoka sand dunes carving driftwood for the park as well. I spent a couple of months there before coming to Suva to join Craig at the Pacific Arts Alliance.
"Wood carving has become very interesting for me. In fact, it has become my life. Every morning when I wake up, I start carving. It makes me happy and I like what I am doing. I am able to focus on creating different carvings and designs on wood. Believe it or not, when I carve, it is as if I am communicating with the wood."
He is also grateful to the alliance for providing carving tools for his work.
To define the character of an artist would be impossible and if there is one thing that makes them stand out from the rest it is their natural instinct and passion for creativity.
"This is still a learning experience for me but I am determined to make the most of my skill.
"I might stick around a bit longer but maybe one day I might consider starting my own business. I had some of my tools from New Zealand but the Pacific Arts Alliance also bought some tools for my work which I am grateful for," he said. There is an art exhibition coming in July sponsored by ANZ bank and that is where James will join other artists and display their carvings and sculptures. James is an example to other youths.
He has shown that through hard work anything is possible.

Adapted from Fijitimes Online


TO understand a painting, one must first understand the painter.
It is not easy to see through the eyes of a painter but Joe Taoi Sususewa looks at painting as another way to express his creativity and passion for beauty.
Joe is from Navosa, up the Sigatoka Valley.
He is the son of high school teacher Willie Sususewa and his mother Perina is the driving force at home.
The eldest of six children, Joe's passion for painting started when he was in Class Three.
Although he had a simple upbringing, Joe said drawing was something that always kept him busy in school.
It was the main reason he wanted to go to school and from that early age, Joe would be shaping things with his pencil on a piece of paper or on his exercise book when he was supposed to studying another subject.
"I was brought up in the interior and never really thought about what I wanted to do.
"In Class Three, instead of writing, I would be drawing.
"I attended primary school at Navesau then secondary school at Suva Adventist and then Navesau High School.
"After high school, I continued to pursue my interest in art at the Fiji Institute of Technology studying for a diploma in visual arts.
"It then that I started playing around with colours and started painting.
"I always try to develop something different from a picture I just painted.
"I do not find painting hard and I feel happy when I paint or draw.
"It has become something I love doing and enjoy."
It did not take long for Joe to discovering his talent for creating something beautiful from a simple paint brush and piece of paper or canvas.
His drawings and paintings of the environment is a pleasing sight.
Like most painters and artists, Joe's secret to creating a masterpiece is having a passion for the work.
No doubt, his passion for painting has inspired him to stand out and be different.
He has learnt to express his ideas and creativity through art.
"In 2004, I had the opportunity to work with a well known Korean artist named Young Soorhee.
"He helped me develop my talent in painting.
"I was not working and was facing financial difficulties at the time but was fortunate to cross paths with Sonny Misiolo, a Samoan artist.
"He was quite well-off and I was able to spend time learning about different kinds of artwork and paintings.
"I stayed with him for a year.
"Everyday after school, I would go to him to learn more about developing my talent.
"For me paintings and drawings contain stories and history.
"In 2005, my paintings and drawings were part of the national art exhibition.
"It was the first time for me to enter an art exhibition and I was very nervous but confident at the same time.
"I won two awards at that exhibition, one was for Emerging Artist and the other was for Indigenous Art.
"The paintings are part of the Fiji Arts Council's collection."
Apart from that Joe has done paintings for restaurants and nightclubs in Suva.
The award winning artist believes art has helped him become more confident of his skills and talent.
His dream is to follow in the footsteps of the one and only Vincent Van Gogh — famous for his paintings in the late 19th Century.
Like any other painter, their environment and culture influence their paintings.
Joe has an interest in indigenous and environmental art.
"We had a retreat on a mountain top and it was an eye opener for me.
"The natural beauty we take for granted becomes an inspiration.
In Fiji, paintings and drawings tell stories.
"Our environment tells a story and these stories are put into art, paintings and drawings for the next generation.
"We are preserving our culture and identity through our paintings.
"I believe everyone has a God-given talent.
"It is up to them to discover that talent and move on to do something better and more productive with their life."
For Joe, the sky is the limit and his example should be a lead for spiring painters and artists.
But as Joe said, if you do not have the passion for it, then you do not have it.

Adapted from Fijitimes Online

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


WHEN health and welfare volunteers in Levuka visited four-year-old Seini Bolatagici at her home at Nacobo Village two years ago, she was shy and quiet, unlike other little girls her age.
Seini's shyness stemmed from her inability to make conversation because of a cleft palate from birth.
A cleft palate results when the plates of the skull that join to cover the roof of the mouth are not completely fused.
In such instances, the soft palate at the back of the mouth is often cleft as well. The opening creates problems not only for the formation of speech but also being able to eat food without having it flow into the nasal cavity.
"Seini's twin sister, Makelesi had a similar condition but she passed away a few months before we met Seini," says Patricia Wong, health volunteer in Levuka.
"Makelesi died after she burnt herself with hot tea as she tried to feed herself one morning."
Emele, Seini's mother did not know that Seini's situation could be remedied by surgery.
If Patricia had not visited Seini's village, Seini would have continued with her struggle and grown up without the gift of proper speech or ability to have a meal without having bits of food stray into her nasal cavity.
The ability to identify Seini's condition and others who have various disabilities is a credit to the training provided to volunteers of the Fiji Red Cross.
Training helps them to assess cases and train caregivers to look after children with special needs.
"After I explained to Emele, I contacted the doctor at Levuka Hospital to assess Seini and have her problem surgically corrected," Patricia said.
So Emele and Seini came to the capital on a journey that would change their lives. When they arrived at the CWM Hospital, a team of doctors and well-wishers were waiting for them.
The surgery was performed without incident and Seini's recovery has been smooth.
Seini and Emele's trip to Suva would not be possible without help from the International Women's Association which paid for their travel, accommodation and other expenses. After the surgery, the Red Cross arranged for sessions with a speech therapist.
"Emele tells me Seini is so talkative it is hard to get her to keep quiet," Patricia said with a laugh.

Adapted from Fijitimes Online

Sunday, May 4, 2008


Life as a missionary is interesting and challenging but requires a lot of prayer and fasting, says Metuisela Cinavou who has been serving as a missionary for about 15 years.
He said following Jesus required a lot of sacrifices and commitment.
The 34-year-old man hails from Daliconi, Vanuabalavu in Lau.
In 1995 he attended the Christian Mission Fellowship Bible School, World Harvest Institute in Labasa.
Metui spent one year in Bible school and did field work from 1995 to 2000 when he was told to leave Fiji to serve in Melbourne, Australia.
Metui left in 2000 to serve as a missionary in Melbourne for five years before heading to Cambodia in 2005. He says life in Cambodia is different but he excepted the fact that he was sent on a mission.
He spent the first six months learning their language.
Metui said the only way he could share the word of God to the Cambodians was through learning to speak and understand the language. Metui was accompanied by Ben Ryland.
"When we first arrived in Cambodia, we could see that people living there did not understand English and it was very hard for us to share the word of God. In order for us to get to them we had to learn their language," he said.
"We therefore attended a language class for six months. Within the six months we were able to understand the language."
When they started their mission work, one thing they felt would help them in sharing the word was building relationships with the people within their area.
Metui and his mate made sure they were ready in spirit before they could go out and share the word of God in order for them to make an impact in the particular community.
He said it was very hard to preach the gospel since it was a Buddhist country.
But it was through the power of God and prayers that lives were changed and people converted to Christianity, he said.
"It was really a great challenge for us to share the gospel in a country where everyone was a Buddhist. We made sure we really prepared ourselves well before we went out and spread the gospel.
"For them being Buddhists was like their religion and tradition and for us to change them to become Christians was like taking them away from their tradition and religion as well as their culture," he said.
"We helped out in the community by meeting their needs and helping them in whatever situation they faced. We were able to help provide accomodation for those who were homeless, we gave food to the hungry, provided medical assistance and also assisted students with their educational needs."
"After we'd built a relationship and helped them with their needs, we saw that they really appreciated what were doing and when we shared the word of God with them it was easy because we had this relationship between us."
Metui said within the three years they'd served there, lives were changed and they believe that God had been working through the lives of young people of Cambodia.
He said more than 160 people received the gospel and believed in the Lord as their saviour.
Out of these Christians, the majority were youths and Metui believes these young people could be the main ambassadors of Christ in their country.
He said they'd been working very hard to reach out to those who were living in the interior of Cambodia.
Metui believes where there is a will, there is a way.
"If you have the heart to go forth and take the word of God, God will help you."
He said words and actions always went together.
He would like to encourage young people to take the privilege of what God has instilled in their individual lives and be proud of who they were.
"I am so proud to be a Fijian because we are uniquely designed in God's creative hands. While you have all the opportunity when you are still young, make use of it and try and win as much souls as you can for the kingdom of God."

Adapted from Fijitimes Online