It was windy and cold when we boarded the early morning ferry at Natovi. By lunchtime it was sunny and hot as we approached the wharf at Nabouwalu – a good sign for my first trip to my tovata in the province of Bua (traditional allies with my people from Lau) and my first visit to the field as an intern with WCS.
We went straight to Kavula village in Lekutu District, where women are producing honey and weaving kuta mats as part of a sustainable livelihoods project supported by WCS. I introduced myself during the sevusevu (the traditional ceremony to state our business and request acceptance) before visiting the beehives to get a better idea of their honey production process. After speaking to the women I appreciate the skill and dedication required to maintain the hives and extract honey.
In the coming months we will help them to establish a business plan and access new markets. The income generated will reduce pressure on over-exploited natural resources, support local conservation and other community projects and provide cash to help meet their needs.
From Kavula we went to Wairiki Village in the district of Vuya. Responding to the community’s request for support, we facilitated a water management planning session. This involved mapping their water system (from source to disposal), calculating consumption needs, identifying risks and testing for bacteria. Hopefully this has given their Village Water Committee a good focus and everything they need to submit a report to the Water and Sewage Authority requesting further support.
Next we visited the Bua Showcase, which started on the 29th of August in Nabouwalu. There were many stalls with different decorations showing off a wide range of local handicrafts and other goods. It was a great to see the women of Bua showcasing their skills and products – including kuta mats, jewellery, baskets made from wild vine, fans, handbags and much more!
Among the many other stalls was one for the Bua Yaubula Management Support Team (BYMST) – a partnership of communities, government departments, NGOs and the private sector with a focus on sustainable management of natural resources. Community representatives from all the districts were highlighting the role of BYMST and their plans to promote good practice across the province. We helped by providing posters and distributing fliers whilst Mateo (the representative from Vuya) spoke to people and answered their questions over several bowls of kava.
I was really inspired by the young people of Bua who were showcasing their talents too by helping to set up and operate the stalls.
Vinaka vakalevu to everyone for a wonderful trip, especially to Cagi for looking after me and my tovata Mateo and Drugu for all the laughs we had.