Friday, September 5, 2008
A Long August
It has been a pretty busy month, and it has unfortunately kept me from writing up here as often as I would like. The organization that has been funding my environmental group had their week long festival here at the end of August, which has kept me a bit preoccupied. For being run only a week in a small town in Fiji, the Festival of the Friendly North raises a pretty substantial about of money; we grossed this year about $125 thousand (net is expected to be around $100 thousand). All of the money that is raised goes towards community projects in the greater Labasa area. Through the past couple years they have constructed new wings for an elderly nursing home, dormitories for a local school for the handicapped, aid to flood victums, a fitness center here in town, and contributed towards several other smaller projects (including the town beautification that I am currently assisting with). The funds raised this year are planned to go towards building a mortuary in a rural town a couple hours east of Labasa and continued beautification work. It is a great organization and I have been very happy to have been a part of it. The Fiji Sun did a short write up on the beautification project (I'm kind of a big deal here, I own many leather bound books...people know me...), and it can be found here: http://www.fijisun.com.fj/main_page/view.asp?id=5472 . They miss quoted me a bit, but the general idea still came through I think.
The pictures above are from the Festival parade where some of the members of my environmental group (H.O.P.E. Labasa) along with some of the other volunteers in the area marched. They gave me a night to MC the entertainment program and a small amount of time to speak on the final day of Festival about our beautification/environmental work. Between these I think we got a decent amount of awareness out to the area about our group and what we are trying to accomplish. We received quite a bit of good feedback and have started getting some new support since the Festival, and we seem to be gathering a bit of steam as we go on.
As scheduled, we began work on the park here in town midway through August. The Labasa police came out and joined members of H.O.P.E. to start the clean-up of the park, and we are looking at begining construction here in the next couple weeks. We have been asked to aid in the creation of a children's park around the new fitness center that the Festival funded, and we are hoping to do some youth education work with some of the new funding that should be coming in now with the completion of the Festival.
Otherwise things are going well. I have started working about half the week over at the Ministry of Fisheries. They have several projects they are juggling, and right now I am going around and trying to figure out exactly where I can best fit in. I have been taking it a bit easy this week, as with the Festival and everything there have been a lot of visitors and late nights. It looks like (keeping my fingers crossed) that we will be starting the reef surveys in a week or so, which will keep me busy and traveling for awhile, but I'll do my best to write back up here soon. I hope all is well with everyone.