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With the Fiji Government’s determination to alleviate poverty in Fiji, the Prime Minister’s Office has been conducting “Poverty Alleviation Awareness Workshop” in remote areas of Fiji since 2012. Despite our very tight schedule helping communities in Bua, Margy and I represented WCS at workshop held in Korovou, a small town in the district of Tailevu, located in the north-eastern part of Viti Levu on the 13th and 14th of March, 2013.
We expected it to be more business-oriented type workshop on how to make money, so we made sure to share our alternative livelihood project ideas in order to let the communities know that conservation and managing resources can help them earning as well. Margy designed a beautiful poster for the “kuta mat project” that instantly became a hit amongst women passing by.
Kini Koto came in to help on the 13th and was the star among school kids telling all about freshwater fish, while Margy stole the show with the cetacean videos proving her favorite quote “charismatic mega-faunas always win!”. I stood there thinking, how can I be so boring? So I had to literally interfere with the 2 stars and promote the puppet show that was scheduled for 4.00 pm. I directed kids to the publication poster to tell them about the “entertainment type” benefits of conservation- “comic books – easy and attractive”. Unfortunately for us, the puppet show had to be cancelled in the end as it was quite late and the students headed home by 3.30 pm.
I was quite impressed with the enthusiasm of the students about natural resources, mainly marine life. We had a lot of kids come around later to ask us, “Ma’am, how can we join this?” and I thought, “Wow, this is our future!”. All of the hype and enthusiasm about conservation was a reward for taking our time out to go for this workshop, not a bad deal after all.
Having our WCS booth about conservation and resource management in the middle of most money making institutions and Government Departments was like a little gift to people interested in resource management and school kids worried about the environment. Talking to us gave them an excellent opportunity to think about ways of getting money out of natural resources without exploitation. Sharing the experiences and stories of the beneftis that communities have gained from engaging with conservation was a big boost to other people coming into the workshop.
Until next time, moce!